Virginia House Delegate David LaRock is calling on the commonwealth’s health commissioner to lift restrictions on the use of antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients and suggesting they may be political in nature.
The Republican, in a letter to State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver last week, also made a Freedom of Information Act request for all documents held by the Department of Health and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam pertaining to hydroxychloroquine.
In March, Oliver issued guidance regarding the treatment of coronavirus cases, which read in part, “Prescriptions for chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, mefloquine and azithromycin should be restricted in the outpatient setting and should require a diagnosis ‘consistent with the evidence for its use.'”
LaRock argued that given the widespread use of the drug, particularly outside the U.S., doctors and patients should be allowed to use it in Virginia without interference from the government.
“In this case, we have an inexpensive treatment, an early treatment that in other countries that is proving to be helpful by virtue of its affordability is one of the most available treatments,” the delegate told The Western Journal.
Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver stresses “health equity” but is denying Virginians, including those with very limited resources, the ability to obtain affordable, safe, and successful COVID-19 treatments readily available elsewhere. More:https://t.co/TIU3Ym5bJw pic.twitter.com/fOiY7VISmt
— Delegate Dave LaRock (@LaRock4Delegate) August 1, 2020
LaRock is concerned that the Northam administration’s resistance to hydroxychloroquine may be political, hence his decision to file a FOIA request.
“Our governor, governors of a few other states have been very aggressive with their shutdowns: California, New York, Michigan to name a few,” LaRock said.
“There’s a possibility that they have communicated and if they are partly or completely motivated politically then we’re hoping that would come forward from a FOIA,” he added.
LaRock noted that Northam has been in a vulnerable place politically since controversial pictures of the governor surfaced in February 2019 from his medical school days, showing him either in blackface or potentially a Ku Klux Klan custom.
The legislator contended that the governor has been in a rebuilding phase since then and one way to curry favor with Democrats is to help deliver Virginia in November, through both the aggressive shutdown to hurt the state economically and denial of life-saving treatment.
“If he were to be influential in delivering Virginia, the Democrats in some way, that might be one of the few opportunities he’d have,” LaRock said.
He noted Northam has already taken an extreme position regarding late-term abortions, saying mothers and their doctors should be able to decide whether babies who survive the procedure should be able to live.
“Taking an action that shows an apparent disregard for human life” is something the governor has shown a willingness to do, LaRock said.
“He is a medical doctor, so he understands that. So to make that decision you have to be pretty cold.”
LaRock concluded his letter to Oliver writing, “I have encountered a number of Virginians who have concluded with a sense of outrage that [hydroxychloroquine] is being restricted in Virginia not for medical reasons, but for political reasons.”
“Every day this directive is left standing, the likelihood increases that more Virginians will die unnecessarily from COVID-19 for lack of proper early treatment.”
The Western Journal reached out to the offices of Gov. Northam and Commissioner Oliver for comment but did not immediately receive responses.
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