Physicians and hospitals should stop prophylactically prescribing and hoarding drugs being discussed as possible COVID-19 coronavirus treatment, according to a statement from doctor and pharmacist groups.
In a March 25 statement, the American Medical Association, American Pharmacist Association, and Americans Society of Health-System Pharmacists highlighted both physicians’ and pharmacists’ responsibility to be stewards of healthcare resources during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The statement followed media reports of doctors calling in prescriptions for drugs, like chloroquine, which have been touted by President Donald J. Trump as a possible “game changer” in the treatment of COVID-19. No drugs have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of the disease.
According to The New York Times, doctors have been stockpiling these drugs for themselves and their family members and pharmacists who refuse to fill them are being verbally abused and pressured to comply. Several states have taken action to end the practice.
“Stockpiling these medications—or depleting supplies with excessive, anticipatory orders—can have grave consequences for patients with conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis if the drugs are not available in the community,” the statement says. “The health care community
must collectively balance the needs of patients taking medications on a regular basis for an existing condition with new prescriptions that may be needed for patients diagnosed with COVID-19.”
In addition to addressing the physicians and pharmacists, the statement also cautions against state actions to curb access to the drugs and asks that any policies make an emphasis on professional responsibility and not hinder patients who are already prescribed the drugs from receiving them.
“We applaud the ongoing efforts to conduct clinical trials and generate evidence related to these and other medications during a time of pandemic,” the statement says. “We are also encouraged that some pharmaceutical manufacturers are increasing production of high-demand medications as well as supplying them for use in clinical trials.”