KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) said doctors across Michigan are inappropriately prescribing medications rumored to treat the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, to their family, friends and co-workers.
President Donald Trump has endorsed a few medications as possible treatments for COVID-19, but none are proven to work.
Michigan pharmacists said they are seeing an increase in prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, and while Michigan Pharmacists Association CEO Larry Wagenknecht said there’s no shortage of those medications as of March 25, 2020, in Michigan, that could soon change.
“All of the pharmacists I spoke with had some supply of the medication but they don’t have a lot," said Wagenknecht.
The increase in prescriptions is causing a potential shortage for those whose really need the medications.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are used to help people treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and malaria.
There is little evidence those medications can be used to treat COVID-19. Clinical testing is ongoing.
The Lupus Foundation of America said there are no alternatives to these medications.
“For many people, hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine are the only methods of preventing inflammation and disease activity that can lead to pain, disability, organ damage and other serious illness. An increase in lupus-related disease activity not only significantly impairs the health and quality of life of people with lupus but will also place further strain on health care providers and systems in a time of crisis," The Lupus Foundation of America said in a statement.
Wagenknecht said pharmacists are taking a closer look at what prescriptions Michigan doctors are writing to make sure medications are going to the right people.
He said pharmacists know the people who regularly come in to fill those prescriptions and they are trying to reserve some of the medication for those patients.
“When individuals are coming in with prescriptions they are trying to determine what the diagnosis is and if they need it," Wagenknecht said.
He said even if you have a doctor’s note if a pharmacist doesn’t believe you need the medication they can and will turn you away. LARA Bureau of Professional Licensing Director Deb Gagliardi said reports of this conduct will be evaluated and may be further investigated for administrative action.