Hydroxychloroquine, a medicine used for malaria, has been receiving widespread publicity since President Donald Trump said he was confident it could also be used as a treatment for the coronavirus. However, researchers concluded that additional studies are needed to fully investigate the drug’s risks and benefits
On March 24, the Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) in Michigan sent communication to prescribers and dispensers, reminding licensees that – even in times of crisis –they still have an obligation to follow appropriate prescribing and dispensing requirements and provide the best standards of care to their patients.
“Hoarding and stockpiling drugs and prescribing such drugs to oneself and also to friends and family is not lawful and goes against the standards of care that our licensed professionals strive to achieve on a daily basis. Licensees are required to use their best clinical judgment and apply medical justification when treating patients with medications and prescription drugs,” said David Harns, communications manager for LARA.
The message sent by LARA said they had received multiple allegations of Michigan physicians inappropriately prescribing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to themselves, family, friends and/or co-workers without a legitimate medical purpose. It also said prescribing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine without further proof of efficacy for treating COVID-19 or with the intent to stockpile the drug may create a shortage for patients with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or other ailments for which chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are proven treatments. Reports of this conduct may be further investigated for administrative action, according to the message, which also these are drugs that have not been proven scientifically or medically to treat COVID-19.
Pursuant to Michigan Administrative Code, R 338.490(2), a pharmacist shall not fill a prescription if the pharmacist believes the prescription will be used for other than legitimate medical purposes or if the prescription could cause harm to a patient.
In a report from one study published by the Journal of Zhejiang University in China 15 patients were given the malaria drug. Thirteen of these individuals tested negative for the coronavirus after a week of treatment. However, of 15 patients who didn’t get hydroxychloroquine and received conventional treatment instead, 14 tested negative for the virus.