To combat illegal prescribing and hoarding of medications that could prove useful in the battle against the coronavirus, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal imposed statewide emergency controls of certain prescription medications.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are prescription drugs used to treat malaria and certain chronic inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Demand is increasing for the drugs as reports indicate the drugs are being tested as possible treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Additionally, media reports showcase the drugs are being hoarded by people without immediate need. Pharmacy associations warned doctors and dentists are writing prescriptions for family members or themselves.
“Stockpiling and hoarding drugs, and inappropriate prescribing for friends and family, is unacceptable. The action we are taking today protects the drug supply so that medications are available when necessary for those who need them most,” said Attorney General Grewal.
The Division of Consumers Affairs, under the direction of Attorney General Grewal, issued the order imposing the restrictions.
The order mandates any prescription drugs that could be a possible treatment for COVID-19 which is in short supply must include a diagnosis or diagnostic code supported by a medical record for the patient.
Prescriptions without the supporting documentation would be invalid, and pharmacists would be prohibited from filling them. The law was effective immediately and until further notice.
“Medical professionals have a duty to make conscientious prescribing and dispensing decisions that ensure every patient is able to obtain their medication,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “This includes only issuing prescriptions necessary for the treatment of patients, and in reasonable quantities to ensure continuity of care for all who rely on them.”
Intent of Order and Limitations
The order is designed to help alleviate concerns that medical professionals would prescribe themselves or friends and family the drugs, including hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. This would protect against hoarding of the drugs.
The drug would be allowed for treatment of COVID-19 when diagnosed correctly. The prescription would be limited to 14 days, with no refills permitted.
Additionally, it would help to ensure doctors prescribe drugs within their scope of practice. Specifically, the order would help prevent podiatrists, veterinarians, or dentists for prescribing the medication for treatment of the disease.
Those using the drug for preexisting conditions, including autoimmune diseases, would not be subject to the limitations. Additionally, it would not apply to medications for inpatient hospital use or in federal or state clinical trials.