The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has banned the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 in Ohio, starting on Thursday.

Under the ban, pharmacies, clinics, and other medical institutions will not be allowed to dispense or sell the drug, which is still allowed in clinical trials in the state, the board’s administrative code said.

The news of the ban comes on the heels of retweet by President Trump promoting a video of a woman that claimed to be a physician in Texas, Dr. Stella Immanuel, who claims hydroxychloroquine is the cure for the COVID-19.

The controversial video was viewed more than 4 million times before it was pulled from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube after being deemed false information by the social media platforms. The video was first posted by Breitbart.

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by Trump to treat COVID-19 despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning that it can cause serious cardiac side effects. Medical studies have also shown it is ineffective at treating COVID-19.

The FDA also pulled an emergency authorization for the use of the drug to treat patients that had the virus. Hydroxychloroquine is traditionally used to treat malaria, as well as arthritis and other inflammatory illnesses.

While the drug is banned in Ohio, it is allowable for use in other states. Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), who tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week, said he is taking hydroxychloroquine to treat the illness.

Gohmert came under criticism for failing to wear a face mask and follow social distancing guidelines while at Capital Hill. The congressman told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday evening that he was taking the drug as directed by his doctor.

“My doctor and I are all in,” Gohmert said. Treatment using hydroxychloroquine would begin “in the next day or two,” he added.

Ohio pharmacies that violate the hydroxychloroquine ban will face disciplinary actions, which could include a warning, fine, or temporary suspension of their license.

“The long and short of it is, we want people to focus on what works, such as social distancing and mask use,” Cameron McNamee, director of policy and communications for the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, told The Columbus Dispatch. “We ultimately want to make sure people are being safe and not exposing themselves to drugs that have shown not to be effective in treating COVID-19.”

The U.S. has reported over 4.4 million positive cases of the coronavirus, with over 150.000 COVID-19 deaths, Johns Hopkins University said Thursday morning. Ohio has over 87,800 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with over 3,400 COVID-19 deaths reported, the university said.

A pharmacy tech holds a tablet of hydroxychloroquine A pharmacy tech holds a tablet of hydroxychloroquine Photo: AFP / GEORGE FREY