New details are just coming to light about the state of Utah's purchase of an anti-malaria drug 24 days ago. The drug, hydroxychloroquine, is a potential treatment for COVID-19.
It's a deal that was never open to the public, but the public-funded.
On March 31, 2020, the state paid $800,000 for 20,000 units of hydroxychloroquine, which the state has not taken delivery of yet.
Chase Thomas with the progressive non-profit group Alliance for a Better Utah says:
This is still a little concerning that the state government went ahead and made a huge purchase like this without anybody really knowing."
It was also recently discovered the Utah Department of Health is negotiating for 200,000 additional units of the same drug from the same company, Meds in Motion.
That deal has not been signed yet, but the deal the state made in March is a different deal entirely.
I think for Utahns it just shows that we need to hold our government officials accountable and make sure they're doing what's right for our state."
The governor's office denied an interview request about this purchase.
Paul Edwards, a COVID Community Task Force spokesman, instead sent a statement saying:
In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) was authorized to make rapid-fire decisions about strategic purchases in support of the state’s response to the pandemic. All such purchases, such as those for personal protective equipment (PPE), were acquired in anticipation that federal funding would eventually follow on to support those purchases. On March 31, 2020, GOMB approved the purchase of 20,000 units of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment option for COVID-19 from Meds in Motion at a cost of $800,000. The state has not yet taken delivery of that order.”
Thursday, the Utah House blocked an amendment that would have capped how much can be spent on non-FDA approved drugs.
That paves the way for the state to spend up to $6 million on pharmaceutical drugs. Below you'll find a copy of the March purchase order: