Image of nurses' hands at computer keyboard

A U.S. congresswoman is seeking answers from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ following a state-run center’s decision to prescribe a controversial drug to nursing home residents battling COVID-19. 

The request by Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) comes after a Pennsylvania veterans nursing home was found to have given hydroxychloroquine to residents in an effort to treat the disease during April. More than 40 residents have passed away following the move, the Washington Post reported.

Between late March and mid-July, however, Houlahan noted that although hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate had FDA emergency use authorization, studies began to make it clear that the “risks of using these two therapeutics outweighed the potential benefits,” she explained in a late July letter sent to the VA. 

Houlahan questioned if the VA was aware of the nursing home prescribing the medication, if it issued guidance regarding the use of the drug, and if it plans to make recommendations about the use of other care and treatment options. 

She also urged them to investigate the similar experiences at other state-run veterans nursing homes and base resident care on “sound science.” 

“I ask you to investigate whether any other state-run veterans home across the country experienced similar circumstances, and I urge you to learn from this experience to ensure that our Veterans, whether they are in the VA’s care or in state Veterans Homes, get the best possible care based on sound science,” she wrote.