Fact Check: The American Medical Association Did NOT Rescind Its Original Guidance On Hydroxychloroquine

Fact Check

  • by: Victoria Eavis
Fact Check: The American Medical Association Did NOT Rescind Its Original Guidance On Hydroxychloroquine Unchanged

Did the American Medical Association rescind its original guidance on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19? No, that's not true: The AMA's guidance on hydroxychloroquine remains unchanged. Since the association's original March 25, 2020, statement on the use of the anti-malarial drug, the agency has added more information, but never back-tracked.

The claim appeared in a blog post (archived here) where it was published by Len Bilen on December 14, 2020, under the title "American Medical Association Rescinds Previous Statement Against Prescription of Hydroxychloroquine to COVID-19 Patients." It opened:

CHICAGO, IL - The American Medical Association (AMA), in a surprising move, has officially rescinded a previous statement against the use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, giving physicians the okay to return to utilizing the medication at their discretion.

This is what the blog entry looked like at the time of posting:

Screen Shot 2020-12-16 at 1.59.17 PM.png

Disinformation about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 has been swirling for months.

Here are the facts on the latest false claim that the AMA recently took back its original guidance on the effectiveness of the now-infamous drug in treating COVID-19. First, the AMA posted the following tweet on December 16, 2020, in response to these false claims:

The guidance that the AMA has stuck to all along comes in a joint statement from the AMA, American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. The statement does not make a sweeping declaration that tells physicians to never prescribe hydroxychloroquine for ailments outside of its FDA-approved uses. Rather, the statement says that the "novel off-label use" of drugs such as hydroxychloroquine is circumstantial and is up to the physician to assess on a case-by-case basis.
"We encourage patient-centered care decisions, made on an individualized basis with patients' informed consent about the risks and benefits associated with any treatment regimen. However, evidence-based science and practice must guide these determinations," the statement continues. So far, there is no solid evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective at treating COVID-19 or preventing infection.

The false claim about the AMA's guidance on hydroxychloroquine followed a November 2020 meeting in which the AMA House of Delegates -- the policy making arm of the association-- reviewed a resolution to rescind the statement on the use of hydroxychloroquine. However, the members of the House of Delegates voted AGAINST this resolution, so the original statement on the use of hydroxychloroquine remains intact and unchanged. What's more, the delegates voted to reaffirm the longstanding policy, Patient Access to Treatments Prescribed by Their Physicians H-120.988, that strongly encourages physicians to make autonomous decisions using their professional judgement, a policy that aligns with the joint statement on the use of hydroxychloroquine.

Sites that are responsible for spreading this false claim about the AMA's position regarding hydroxychloroquine have since issued corrections on their articles, including The Gateway Pundit and Published Reporter.

Read more Lead Stories reporting on hydroxychloroquine here.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Victoria Eavis

Victoria Eavis is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She recently graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. In her last few months at Duke, she was a reporter for a student news site, The 9th Street Journal, that covers the city of Durham, North Carolina. 

Read more about or contact Victoria Eavis

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