The antimalarial drug has already been touted by former US President Donald Trump as an effective treatment for COVID-19. Oklahoma is now trying to return it for $ 2 million.
The Oklahoma attorney general’s office is trying to return $ 2 million from a malaria drug once touted by former United States President Donald Trump as an effective treatment for COVID-19, said Wednesday a spokesperson.
Alex Gerszewski, spokesperson for Attorney General Mike Hunter, said Hunter was trying to negotiate the return of the 1.2 million Oklahoma hydroxychloroquine tablets acquired in April from a California-based supplier, FFF Enterprises. He said the office was acting at the request of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, which authorized the purchase.
A spokeswoman for FFF Enterprises did not immediately return a message on Wednesday requesting comment.
Oklahoma’s attempt to return hydroxychloroquine was first reported by online news outlet The Frontier.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt defended the purchase last year, saying the drug showed promise as a treatment in early March and he didn’t want to miss an opportunity to acquire it.
“I was proactive in trying to protect the Oklahomans,” Stitt said at the time.
The drug has since been shown to have little to no effect on severe cases of COVID-19, and a former public health official attributed the Oklahoma purchase to something happening in “the fog of war ”.
While the governments of at least 20 other states obtained more than 30 million doses of the drug through donations from the Federal Reserve or private companies, Oklahoma and Utah bought them from private pharmaceutical companies.
Then-Utah Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, initially defended the state’s $ 800,000 purchase of 20,000 packets of hydroxychloroquine combined with zinc, but later canceled an additional plan aiming to spend an additional $ 8 million to purchase 200,000 additional treatments. The state was then successful in securing reimbursement on the $ 800,000 non-tender contract it had signed with a local pharmacy that promoted the drugs.
The CEO of the pharmaceutical company has since pleaded guilty to a federal offense for mislabelling the drug imported from China. Dan Richards, the operator of Meds In Motion, admitted to receiving large amounts of the drug from an unregistered manufacturer in China that was incorrectly labeled as an herbal supplement.
His lawyer said he was trying to help procure as much of the product as possible because at the time it seemed to be a promising treatment for the coronavirus.