As people have started to stockpile drugs that might possibly treat coronavirus, several states have rushed to set strict prescribing limits in order to prevent shortages of the medicines for those who truly need them.
Idaho, Nevada, Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma and West Virginia have all taken measures to make sure doctors aren’t unnecessarily prescribing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine – just as the antibiotic Cipro was unnecessarily prescribed and hoarded after the anthrax attacks of 2001.
“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,” according to the West Virginia regulation, using the medical term for the disease caused by the coronavirus. “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.”
One pharmacist tweeted that she’s worried about shortages for patients who are legitimately using the drugs.
Katherine Rowland, a pharmacist in Oregon, wrote Sunday that a dentist tried to call in prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine “for himself, his wife & another couple (friends.). NOPE. I have patients with lupus that have been on HCQ for YEARS and now can’t get it because it’s on backorder.”
The state regulations were put in place starting on Thursday, when President Trump first expressed optimism that the drugs would help treat the infection.
“I’m a big fan, and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said at a White House press briefing Friday. “I’ve seen things that are impressive.”
One of his own medical advisers was much more restrained, emphasizing that studies still need to be done to see if these drugs can safely and effectively treat coronavirus.