As a retired pharmacist with 58 years of practice in many pharmacy environments, I am concerned that, although we are being given many valuable statistics concerning coronavirus in our community, I am and more and more troubled with the treatment protocols for COVID-19.
I think it is a fair question to ask our personal physicians and local emergency room staff what their treatment protocol currently is when patients call or come in with early symptoms or diagnosis of this disease. I personally do not want to wait until I am sick enough to have to be admitted to the hospital and on a ventilator before any treatment is provided to me.
I have been told that some who have to go to the ER with a fever and other early symptoms were given a couple of Tylenol and sent home to quarantine and rest until the symptoms are gone, or told if the situation worsens, to return to the hospital for possible admission. The, if the symptoms are severe enough, that patient will be placed in ICU, possibly placed on a ventilator, or transferred to a San Antonio hospital for ECOM treatment.
As a pharmacist and as a senior citizen who remains conscious and vigilant concerning my personal health, I have done a fair amount of research about treatment for this new disease. It has come to my attention that there are two early or prophylaxis treatment methods utilizing steroid Budesonide, administered through a nebulizer, or hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets in low doses, both of which have had a reasonable amount of success in literally hundreds of patients.
These treatments have been prescribed for years for other purposes and have shown few if any side effects for COVID-19 treatment when administered in the proper dosage. And by the way, there are much less expensive, less than $100, than the currently and hard to obtain Remdesivir, a new drug that costs thousands of dollars per injection.
I have seen several interviews on news programs with at least a dozen physicians from various locations and various fields of medicine discussing their successful experience using HCQ, adding that few if any of their patients are ever hospitalized when treated early. Unfortunately, these interviews have been removed by Google, Facebook and YouTube as fast as they’re posted.
In my experience, I have always understood that physicians have always been allowed to prescribe an FDA approved drug for off-label uses, and pharmacists were never prohibited from filling these prescriptions. However, the State Board of Pharmacy made a ruling several months ago that prohibited a pharmacy from filling a prescription for HCQ unless it was for malaria, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Fortunately, that ruling expired on July 21. This could have been the result of pressure from patients, doctors and citizens lobbying to allow this prescription for preventative treatment.
However, as of July 29, I was informed that the FDA had withdrawn its permitted emergency use of HCQ for COVID-19, effectively making it illegal to prescribe the drug, even in the face of multiple doctors testifying of its efficacy.
I am concerned that certain government agencies and politicians are intervening with the patient/physcian relationship in a manner that prevents the doctor from prescribing and the patient from receiving inexpensive and effective, possibly life saving, treatment for this particularly invasive and cruel disease.
It appears more and more that there must be another agenda underlying this battle which, in my opinion, is tantamount to being criminal by limiting effective treatment to sick patients, and preventing doctors from prescribing drugs that have been shown to help, even threatening to revoke their license.
Both physicians and pharmacists take an oath to “do no harm,” and if they are being prohibited by law from doing what they feel may be beneficial to their patient, and that patient dies, then the physicians are not to be blamed, but those who have denied the remedy, and those perpetrators should be prosecuted.
We as citizens and possible future patients must be proactive in taking care of our own best interests and must ask our physicians what their policy is for treating and prescribing drugs for this dreadful disease.
Bill Morgan owned his own pharmacy for 23 years, worked at the Veterans Affairs Administration and has done relief pharmacy work for 58 years. He is a Kerrville resident.