TMB President: Board Does Not Ban Any Drug for COVID-19
By David Doolittle

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The Texas Medical Board (TMB) does not prohibit any drug or treatment for COVID-19 patients, including the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, TMB President Sherif Z. Zaafran, MD, said during a monthly board meeting last week.

"The off-label use of hydroxychloroquine as an alternative therapy for COVID-19 patients is completely permissible,” Dr. Zaafran said. “As is the case with any alternative therapy, physicians must ensure they comply with Board Rule 200, which requires physicians to provide full disclosure of treatment options, side effects, and obtain informed consent."

Currently there are no federally approved treatments for COVID-19, though some drugs and treatments have shown promise, including remdesivir and convalescent plasma.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat or prevent malaria, and hydroxychloroquine is also FDA-approved to treat autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. 

However, FDA has said the use of either drug for COVID-19 “should be limited to clinical trial settings or for treating certain hospitalized patients under the [emergency use authorization].”

The Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force has recommended “against using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 except in a clinical trial based on National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines.”

Earlier this month, TMA and TMB reminded physicians to continue to use appropriate medical judgment when considering any drugs and therapies to treat COVID-19 and to take appropriate steps when making any treatment or other medical decision.

During TMB’s August board meeting, Dr. Zaafran said physicians and other health care professionals “should not fear disciplinary action from the TMB simply for expressing their support of specific COVID-19 treatments like hydroxychloroquine.”

But, “because there is no definitive cure, claims of a cure may constitute false, misleading, or deceptive advertising, which is prohibited by law and may prompt an inquiry from the TMB," he said.

The TMA COVID-19 Task Force in June updated its frequently asked questions (FAQ) on COVID-19 treatment. The FAQ is based on guidance from NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas Department of State Health Services, and other public health organizations.

You also can find the latest news, resources, and government guidance on the coronavirus outbreak by visiting TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center regularly.

Last Updated On

August 25, 2020

Originally Published On

August 25, 2020

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David Doolittle

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Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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