Alex Gerszewski, a spokesman for Attorney General Mike Hunter, said Hunter is attempting to negotiate a return of the 1.2 million hydroxychloroquine pills Oklahoma acquired in April from a California-based supplier, FFF Enterprises. He said the office was acting on a request from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, which authorized the purchase.
A spokeswoman for FFF Enterprises didn't immediately return a message Wednesday seeking comment.
The attempt by Oklahoma to return the hydroxychloroquine was first reported by the online news publication The Frontier.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt defended the purchase last year, saying the drug was showing some promise as a treatment in early March and he didn't want to miss an opportunity to acquire it.
“I was being proactive to try and protect Oklahomans,” Stitt said at the time.
While governments in at least 20 other states obtained more than 30 million doses of the drug through donations from the federal reserve or private companies, Oklahoma and Utah bought them from private pharmaceutical companies.
Then-Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, initially defended the state’s $800,000 purchase of 20,000 packets of hydroxychloroquine compounded with zinc, but later canceled an additional plan to spend $8 million more to buy 200,000 more treatments. The state then managed to secure a refund on the $800,000 no-bid contract it signed with a local pharmacy company that had been promoting the drugs.
The CEO of the pharmacy company has since pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor for mislabeling the drug imported from China. Dan Richards, the operator of Meds In Motion, acknowledged receiving large amounts of the drug from an unregistered manufacturer in China incorrectly labeled as an herbal supplement.
Associated Press reporter Lindsay Whitehurst contributed to this report from Salt Lake City.