State Board of Pharmacy: Doctors, stop hoarding drugs showing promise to treat COVID-19

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas State Board of Pharmacy put in place new changes that will limit prescriptions for the drugs showing promise in treating COVID-19.

The Board held an emergency meeting Friday afternoon after concerns that pharmacists are dispensing an increased amount of chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, mefloquine, ​azithromycin. 

Allison Benz, Executive Director of the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, said they’ve recently been made aware of the problem. 

“Apparently, prescribers are writing prescriptions to stockpile the drugs for themselves/family members and their office staff as a preventative,” Benz said. “It seems like people are trying to start hoarding these medications just like they’ve been hoarding toilet paper and water​.”

Benz said the drugs are used for conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. She added the board has been told that drug wholesalers are running out. “There are individuals that are prescribing the medication inappropriately, and so we are trying to limit that in order to make sure the people that do need these medications have them available to them,” explained Benz. 

The drugs have shown early signs of improving symptoms for coronavirus patients, but they have not been FDA approved as treatments. President Trump talked about the medications during White House briefings this week.

Banner Health which is a non-profit health system based in Phoenix said that a man, in his 60s, died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate to protect himself from the coronavirus. His wife remains in critical condition. 

The new guidelines in Texas say the prescription or medication order must include a written diagnosis from the prescriber and “the prescription or medication order is limited to no more than a 14-day supply, unless the patient was previously established on the medication prior to the effective date of this rule.”

Also, no refills are permitted unless a new prescription or medication order is furnished. 

“Within the last three days, we would have received enough medication to fill… [what] we would typically fill in two weeks to a month,” said James Cong, Director of Clinical Affairs at Tarrytown Pharmacy. The pharmacy is now screening prescriptions for these medications. 

“When prescribers call in we ask them ‘Hey is this for an active condition, has there been a positive diagnosis for COVID-19,” explained Cong. “And then we kind of have that communication with the prescriber to see if they need it right now or maybe we can just call in the prescription, but not fill it.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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