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Washoe Commission Joins Suit Over Sisolak's Order On Drugs

The five Washoe County Commissioners stand in front of a white fence.
Washoe County Commission
Washoe County Commissioners voted to join a lawsuit challenging Governor Steve Sisolak's emergency order limiting the availaibility of some malaria drugs.

The Washoe County Commission is backing a potential lawsuit meant to overturn emergency restrictions on antimalarial drugs used to treat COVID-19.

The commission voted four-to-one to support the Nevada Osteopathic Medical Association’s possible legal challenge to Governor Steve Sisolak’s directive meant to prevent the hoarding of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. 

The drugs are typically used to treat malaria and some autoimmune diseases but have recently been touted as a possible treatment for the coronavirus.

Ahead of the vote, Nevada Osteopathic Medical Association President Bruce Fong told commissioners the new regulations are preventing doctors from putting their patients first.

“We feel that we have a better gauge of being able to say ‘Mr. Jones, Mr. Smith, hey it’s time. We’ve got to get you on this medicine. I think you’re getting worse. We don’t want you to go down that slippery slope that’s going to kill you,’” said Fong.

Kitty Jung, the lone Democrat and only no vote on the commission, said she had supply chain questions if the drugs were to become widely available as a COVID-19 treatment.

“How can I reassure patients in Washoe County that are already on a regiment for this drug for other needs, are not at risk of losing this drug? That must be reassured first to me," she said.

So far, there are conflicting reports on the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the disease with supporters largely relying on anecdotal evidence. Preliminary analysis published by the University of Virginia and the National Institutes of Health found that COVID patients in U.S. Veterans hospitals showed no benefit and even more deaths from the drugs.

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Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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