Multiple State Pharmacy Boards Are Warning That Physicians Are Hoarding Touted Coronavirus Drugs For Themselves And Their Families

While many healthcare providers throughout the United States are making valiant efforts to help diagnose and treat coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, often at risk to themselves and potentially for their families, there are a growing number of physicians in the United States who are writing prescriptions for themselves and their family members for medications that some have touted as being useful in treating the coronavirus. Ever since President Trump promoted chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as possible treatments for the coronavirus, prescriptions for the drugs have skyrocketed.

Hydroxychloroquine, which is sold under the brand name Plaquenil, is approved to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Chloroquine is an anti-malarial treatment.

The surge in inappropriate prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, and other drugs has led to many states and their pharmacy boards to issue new rules to try to stem the tsunami of improper prescriptions written by physicians and other healthcare providers for said drugs. The North Carolina Board of Pharmacy stated on March 23, 2020: “Board staff and public health officials at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services are aware of numerous reports from pharmacists across the state concerning new prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, azithromycin, Kaletra, and potentially other medications – often in large quantities with a high number of refills — to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports include these prescriptions being issued by prescribers for themselves and family members, and for persons who have not been exposed to or infected by the COVID-19 virus.” Source

The Illinois Pharmacists Association issued the following statement: “The Illinois Pharmacists Association (IPhA) is disturbed by the current actions of prescribers that are inappropriately prescribing medications such as: Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine), Chloroquine, and Zithromax (Azithromycin) without valid patient-provider relationship or reasonable medical rationale.”

The West Virginia Board of Pharmacy issued a COVID-19 Update on March 21, 2020 that stated, in part: “Currently, both nationally and in West Virginia, some prescribers have begun writing prescriptions for these drugs for family, friends, and coworkers in anticipation of Covid-19 related illness. This is leading to a shortage of the drug both for patients prescribed the drug for issues unrelated to Covid-19 and potentially to individuals suffering from the effects of Covid-19.”

The Texas State Board of Pharmacy issued an emergency rule on March 20, 2020 that states: “No prescription or medication order for chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, mefloquine, or azithromycin may be dispensed or distributed unless all the following apply: (1) the prescription or medication order bears a written diagnosis from the prescriber consistent with the evidence for its use; (2) the prescription or medication order is limited to no more than a fourteen (14) day supply, unless the patient was previously established on the medication prior to the effective date of this rule; and (3) no refills may be permitted unless a new prescription or medication order is furnished.”

The Idaho State Board of Pharmacy issued a new temporary rule effective on March 19, 2020 that states: “704. Medication Limitations. 1. No prescription for chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine may be dispensed except if all the following apply: a. The prescription bears a written diagnosis from the prescriber consistent with the evidence for its use; b. The prescription is limited to no more than a fourteen (14) day supply, unless the patient was previously established on the medication prior to the effective date of this rule; and c. No refills may be permitted unless a new prescription is furnished.”

The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy issued an “Emergency Rule for Dispensing Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine” on March 22, 2020 that states: “4729-5-30.2 – Prescription requirements for chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine (A) Unless otherwise approved by the board’s executive director, no prescription for chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine may be dispensed by a pharmacist or sold at retail by a licensed terminal distributor of dangerous drugs unless all the following apply: (1) The prescription bears a written diagnosis code from the prescriber; and (2) If written for a COVID-19 diagnosis, the diagnosis has been confirmed by a positive test result, which is documented on the prescription and both of the following apply: (a) The prescription is limited to no more than a fourteen-day supply; and (b) No refills may be permitted unless a new prescription is furnished. (B) Prescriptions for either presumptive positive patients or prophylactic use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine related to COVID-19 is strictly prohibited unless otherwise approved by the board’s executive director in consultation with the board president, at which time a resolution shall issue.” Source

On March 24, 2020, the North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services and the State Health Director requested that the Medical Board and the Board of Pharmacy adopt the COVID-19 Drug Preservation Rule in order to alleviate shortages and ensure that these drugs are available to patients who need them: “21 NCAC 46 .1819 COVID-19 DRUG PRESERVATION RULE (a) The following drugs are “Restricted Drugs” as that term is used in this Rule: (1) Hydroxychloroquine; (2) Chloroquine; (3) Lopinavir-ritonavir; (4) Ribavirin;(5) Oseltamivir; (6) Darunavir; and (7) Azithromycin.(b) A pharmacist shall fill or refill a prescription for a Restricted Drug only if that prescription bears a written diagnosis from the prescriber consistent with the evidence for its use. (c) When a patient has been diagnosed with COVID-19, any prescription of a Restricted Drug for the treatment of COVID-19 shall: (1) Indicate on the prescription order that the patient has been diagnosed with COVID-19; (2) Be limited to no more than a fourteen (14) day supply; and (3) Not be refilled, unless a new prescription order is issued in conformance with this Rule, including not being refilled through an emergency prescription refill. (d) A pharmacist shall not fill or refill a prescription for a Restricted Drug for the prevention of, or in anticipation of, the contraction of COVID-19 by someone who has not yet been diagnosed. (e) A prescription for a Restricted Drug may be transmitted orally only if all information required by this Rule is provided to the pharmacy by the physician or the physician’s agent, and that information is recorded in writing by the pharmacy, along with the identity of the physician or physician’s agent transmitting the prescription. (f) This Rule does not affect orders for administration to inpatients of health care facilities. (g) This Rule does not apply to prescriptions for a Restricted Drug for a patient previously established on that particular Restricted Drug on or before March 10, 2020.” Source

On March 20, 2020, the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy issued its “Guidance on the Dispensing of Prescriptions for Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine in Response to COVID-19” that states, in part: “Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine Restrictions. Prescriptions for chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine related to COVID-19 may ONLY be dispensed for the treatment of, NOT for the prevention of the disease and must comply with the following: a) The patient has a diagnosis of COVID-19 and the diagnosis is indicated on the prescription; b) The prescription is limited to no more than a fourteen (14) day supply; c) No refills may be permitted unless a new prescription is furnished; and d) The pharmacist confirms that the prescribing practitioner submitted an individual “compassionate use” or expanded access request with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA Form 3926). This guidance is in effect until June 30, 2020.” Source

On March 25, 2020, the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy issued directives that stated: “1. Prescriptions for chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, mefloquine, or azithromycin may not be dispensed or distributed unless all the following apply: a) the prescription or medication order bears a written diagnosis from the prescriber consistent with the evidence for its use; b) the prescription or medication order is limited to no more than a ten (10) day supply, unless the patient was previously established on the medication prior to the effective date of this rule; c) no refills may be permitted unless a new prescription or medication order is furnished with established written diagnosis and indication for continuation; and d) the Board of Pharmacy shall have the authority to set limitations on any medications for the use in treatment of the COVID-19 coronavirus.” Source

If you or a loved one have suffered serious harm as a result of coronavirus medical malpractice (COVID-19 medical malpractice) in the United States, you should promptly find a coronavirus medical malpractice lawyer (COVID-19 medical malpractice lawyer) near you who may investigate your COVID-19 medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a coronavirus medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in your U.S. state who may assist you.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, March 29th, 2020 at 5:23 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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