FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — The Texas State Board of Pharmacy has issued an emergency order limiting orders of a drug that may help treat COVID-19.
Texas pharmacies are reporting a dramatic increase in orders for the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which is often sold under the brand name Plaquenil.
According to recent data, chloroquine orders are up 3,000% nationwide for March and hydroxychloroquine orders are up 260%.
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved these drugs for the treatment of the coronavirus but that has not stopped many Texas doctors from prescribing it.
Hydroxychloroquine is usually prescribed to treat autoimmune diseases, such a lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Eli Sklarsky takes Plaquenil twice a day to keep his lupus in check. He said he is worried about a potential shortage from people ‘hoarding’ the drug.
“Just the idea of not having the drug gives me panic because of the times that I have not been on the drug and have been sick,” he explained. “My life would be at risk without it.”
The state pharmacy board’s emergency order limits all new orders of the drug to a 14 day supply. Prescriptions also require a written diagnosis “with evidence for its use.”
Pharmacist Carter High, who serves as president of the Alliance of Independent Pharmacists of Texas, said he hopes the new order will prevent people from ‘hoarding’ and ‘stockpiling’ the drug.
“If those drugs are completely gone for someone to get, that could put someone with lupus in a very bad scenario and mean hospitalization for them potentially,” he said.
High said it appears some of these prescriptions are being called in for family members or friends of doctors out of fear the drug might not be available later if it was proven to be a treatment for COVID-19.
Cases of even dentists and veterinarians prescribing large quantities of the drugs have also been recently reported to the state.
The FDA will begin clinical trials on the use of the drug for the coronavirus in New York on Tuesday.