panic prescribing
March 24, 2020

You've probably heard about panic-buying in grocery stores, but it turns out some doctors are reportedly heading down the same path.

The New York Times reports that states like Idaho, Kentucky, Ohio, Nevada, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas are so worried that doctors are stockpiling potential novel coronavirus treatment drugs for themselves that they're issuing emergency restrictions, or at least guidelines, for pharmacists.

"This is a real issue and it is not some product of a few isolated bad apples," said Jay Campbell, the executive director of the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy. The fear is that doctors may be able to hoard treatment drugs for themselves and their families, while they become increasingly difficult to procure among the general public.

Many of the drugs have yet to be proven effective against COVID-19, but they are approved to treat malaria, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, H.I.V., and other conditions, so states are concerned there could be a shortage for patients who need their prescriptions to be filled while dealing with those illnesses.

Idaho was the earliest state to jump on the problem, issuing a temporary rule banning pharmacies from dispensing chloroquine and hydrochloroquine unless the prescription includes a written diagnosis of a condition the drugs are proven to treat, which currently does not include COVID-19. Others have followed suit. Companies like CVS and Walgreens have said their pharmacists will comply with state rules and, in CVS' case, otherwise use "professional judgment" to determine a prescription's validity. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

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