The American Medical Association is warning doctors and dentists to stop hoarding medications touted as possible coronavirus treatments.
Medical doctors and dentists are writing prescriptions for themselves and family members, according to pharmacy boards in states across the country.
The stockpiling has become so worrisome in Idaho, Kentucky, Ohio, Nevada, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Texas that the boards in those states have issued emergency restrictions or guidelines on how the drugs can be dispensed at pharmacies. More states are expected to follow suit.
The medications being prescribed differ slightly from state to state, but include
chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and remdesivir recently approved by the FDA for off-label use. The drugs are commonly used to treat malaria, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV and other conditions.
Pharmacists have been swapping stories on social media about the spike in prescriptions written by doctors for themselves or their families.
“I have multiple prescribers calling in prescriptions for Plaquenil for themselves and their family members as a precaution. Is this ethical?” one person wrote Sunday in a Facebook group for pharmacists, referring to a brand name of hydroxychloroquine. Others weighed in — some noting similar experiences — and expressed their hesitancy to dispense such prescriptions.
“I got called a communist for telling a prescriber, who was trying to call it in for themselves, no,” someone posted Friday in another Facebook group for pharmacists.
Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, said state boards were “trying to stop the hoarding and inappropriate prescribing, but balancing what patients need.”
The American Medical Association denounced the practice in a statement from its president, Dr. Patrice Harris.
“The AMA is calling for a stop to any inappropriate prescribing and ordering of medications, including chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, and appealing to physicians and all health care professionals to follow the highest standards of professionalism and ethics,” she said.
The first restrictions imposed a temporary rule that bars pharmacies from dispensing two drugs — chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — unless the prescription includes a written diagnosis of a condition that the drugs have been proven to treat. The rule also limits prescriptions to a 14-day supply unless a patient has previously taken the medication.
In a statement, CVS said that pharmacists are to use their “professional judgment to determine whether a prescription is valid and appropriate to dispense,” noting that pharmacists would comply with any applicable state board regulations.
A spokeswoman from Walgreens concurred that its pharmacists will follow whatever requirements are set in the state where they practice, also noting that the company had issued guidelines for dispensing two of the drugs in highest demand — chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine.
Walgreens will only allow a 14-day supply for new prescriptions in order to help ensure that the medications remain available for those who need them, the spokeswoman said.