After outrage from grassroots Texans, state bureaucrats backed down on requiring physicians to submit a written diagnosis when prescribing a drug claimed to have had very positive results treating the Chinese coronavirus.

As previously reported, Dr. Ivette Lozano claimed she hit a brick wall from the Texas Board of Pharmacy when trying to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients at her clinic. Lozano also said she believed such a requirement was a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

She reached out to State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood), who confirmed the board had not only mandated that physicians provide a written diagnosis with a prescription for the medication, but pharmacists could deny the prescription if its intended use—in this case, treating the coronavirus—wasn’t among the ones listed on its label by the Food and Drug Administration.

Hall argued prescribing medications for uses other than what is on its label is a “well-known, well-accepted practice” and challenged the board on these new restrictions.

The board responded by reversing its decision, allowing off-label prescriptions of hydroxychloroquine but still requiring a written diagnosis.

Yet after a grassroots outcry, the board backed down again and amended their guidance, adding, “[T]he intended use for the drug is not required if the practitioner determines the furnishing of this information is not in the best interest of the patient in accordance with Board rule 291.34 (b)(7).”

Board rule 291.34 (b)(7)(vii) states: “[All prescriptions shall bear] the intended use for the drug unless the practitioner determines the furnishing of this information is not in the best interest of the patient.”

“We don’t want to delay people in getting their medications,” Allison Benz, executive director of the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, told Texas Scorecard. “It does not necessarily need a diagnosis on the prescription if the prescriber does not want to do that.”

“There is no violation of HIPAA laws if [the diagnosis] is included on there,” she added.

When asked what triggered the change in the guidance, Benz said they had been receiving inquiries from pharmacists.

Robert Montoya

A former filmmaker, University of North Texas graduate, and one-time assistant language teacher, Robert Montoya misses Japan and the 1980s. He is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard.


Texas Minute: 2/2/2023

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