4 more state pharmacy boards join Ohio in curbing prescriptions for experimental COVID-19 drugs

Four more state pharmacy boards have followed Ohio's lead and taken steps to block pharmacists from excessively dispensing two drugs touted as possible COVID-19 treatments, as both drugs are already in shortage. 

Utah, Idaho, Texas and Nevada have all moved to block unnecessary prescriptions of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, both designed to treat malaria but commonly used to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Both drugs have been shown to be effective in slowing the effects of COVID-19 in preliminary trials, but there is no evidence they treat the virus. Physicians were found to be writing prescriptions for themselves and their families to stockpile the drugs, and both are already in shortage

Utah is now drafting regulations to limit the prescribing of both drugs to make sure they're available for patients who need them to treat chronic diseases, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. 

Texas implemented new guidelines for the drugs to require a written diagnosis "consistent with the evidence for its use" from the prescriber and limited prescriptions to a 14-day supply, according to The New York Times. The rules don't apply to patients already taking the drugs for chronic conditions. 

Texas also limited prescriptions of the antibiotic azithromycin and another malaria drug, mefloquine, according to the Times

"It seems like people are trying to start hoarding these medications just like they've been hoarding toilet paper and water​," Allison Benz, executive director of the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, told KXAN, an NBC affiliate in Austin, Texas. 

Nevada's rules make it clear that the drugs can only be used for the treatment and not the prevention of COVID-19, the Times reported. 

Idaho implemented what it calls "Temporary Rule 704," which prohibits dispensing of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine unless there is an official COVID-19 diagnosis, according to KIVI-TV, an ABC affiliate in Boise, Idaho. It also limits prescriptions to a 14-day supply and limits refills.


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