Gov. Herbert Says State’s $800K Hydroxychloroquine Purchase Refunded

Apr 29, 2020, 5:34 PM | Updated: 5:54 pm
In this photo illustration, tablets of hydroxycholorquine in a blister pack are displayed (Photo il...
In this photo illustration, tablets of hydroxycholorquine in a blister pack are displayed (Photo illustration by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
(Photo illustration by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The state of Utah’s $800,000 purchase of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine has been refunded, according to a statement from Gov. Gary Herbert’s office.

State officials also said after an interview review of the purchase that “although there were breakdowns in communication between state agencies, those involved acted in good faith.”

“We have determined that all involved acted proactively, preemptively and prudently during an emergency in an effort to save lives,” officials with the governor’s office said Wednesday.

The state purchased 20,000 doses of the anti-malaria drugs on March 31 from local pharmacy Meds in Motion and received the returned funds Wednesday afternoon.

Officials said Meds in Motion plans to donate the drugs to charities to address a worldwide shortage of anti-malaria medications in developing countries.

Gov. Herbert Ordered Review Of Purchase

State officials came under fire after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issuing a warning against the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine in treating COVID-19 patients.

Herbert said he was unaware of the purchase as it was likely one of many during the early days of the pandemic when the state was rushing to procure essential supplies.

“In this fast-changing environment, there were promising reports about the role of antiviral medications in treating COVID-19 symptoms,” officials said. “Although reports of efficacy were mixed, top medical specialists in the state — before this issue became politicized — urged state officials to look seriously at chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as effective treatment options.”

Health officials said they worked with Meds in Motion to create the custom treatments in quantities sufficient to meet anticipated need. When global interested in the drugs spiked, officials said supply chains frayed and the state authorized the purchase at a fair price.

The Division of State Purchasing and General Services did not have to follow the normal bid process to make the purchases under the president’s and governor’s emergency declarations. State officials said the division is required to exercise caution and justify their actions.

“Through our review, we also have a clearer sense of the unprecedented challenges facing our Division of State Purchasing and General Services (State Purchasing),” officials said. “As global supply chains have fractured, State Purchasing implemented emergency procurement protocols to procure personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies and other needed items to address the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Some of over 300 state orders have been canceled since March 24, 2020, due to product failure, failure to deliver or the state determining the items were no longer needed, officials said.

After the review, officials with the governor’s office said state purchasing “is to be commended for adapting rapidly to crisis conditions and exercising judgment in balancing expediency, cost and quality.”

“It is easy to sensationalize and second guess decisions made on the field of battle,” they said. “There is little here to second guess, and the governor is grateful to public and private sector partners, including Meds in Motion, who have acted with dispatch in a good faith effort to save lives.”

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Gov. Herbert Says State’s $800K Hydroxychloroquine Purchase Refunded