OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Republican state leaders in Oklahoma and Utah are facing scrutiny for spending millions of dollars combined to purchase malaria drugs promoted by President Trump to treat COVID-19 patients that many other states obtained for free and that doctors warned shouldn’t be used without more testing.
While governments in 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 instead bought them from private pharmaceutical companies.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday defended the state’s $2 million purchase, saying the drug was showing some promise. His health secretary attributed buying the 1.2 million hydroxychloroquine pills to something that happens in the “fog of war.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert at first defended the state’s $800,000 purchase of 20,000 packets of hydroxychloroquine compounded with zinc, but has since ordered an investigation of a no-bid contract with a local company that had been promoting the drugs. Herbert, a Republican, also canceled an additional plan to spend $8 million more to buy 200,000 additional treatments from the same company.
A left-leaning nonprofit group in Utah filed a price gouging complaint Tuesday with state regulators, arguing the $40 per pack drug was grossly overpriced.