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Utah Hydroxychloroquine Seller Hit With Price Gouging Complaint

Photo of white pills spilling out of an orange prescription bottle.
Hydroxychloroquine has been suggested as a possible treatment for COVID-19, although there is limited evidence that it works and it has potentially dangerous side effects.

A progressive advocacy group has alleged Draper-based pharmacy Meds in Motion charged the state too much for 20,000 doses of a controversial anti-malaria drug used to treat COVID-19.

Alliance for a Better Utah filed a price gouging complaintTuesday with the Utah Department of Commerce. The group says that Meds in Motion charged the state almost double the price of generic hydroxychloroquine, and almost 10 times the discounted price offered to consumers on, when it made the sale in late March. 

“Price gouging is an exploitative and unethical practice, especially during a time of crisis or emergency,” Alliance for a Better Utah Executive Director Chase Thomas wrote in the complaint. “We believe that this attempt to take advantage of a crisis to exploit the use of taxpayer funds should be investigated so that this does not occur again in the future.”

The state did not just purchase hydroxychloroquine on its own, though. It bought 20,000 “medication packs” of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in combination with zinc from Meds in Motion, according to a purchase order from the Utah Division of Purchasing and General Services obtained by KUER. 

Gov. Gary Herbert said April 24 the state had not yet taken possession of the medication, and his office told KUER that its legal team is examining whether Meds in Motion had state and federal approval to mass produce the medication. Herbert also announced then that the state was not moving forward with plans to buy another 200,000 treatments, after the legislature appropriated $8 million for them to do so. 

Meds in Motion CEO Dan Richards did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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