At least 20 states across the U.S. are trying to prevent hoarding of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, the antimalarial drugs touted by the president as “game changers” in the U.S. response to COVID-19, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The drugs have both been in shortage since early to mid-March, and supply was strained further after the president talked about the potential benefits of the drugs during several press briefings.
Further straining the supply, India provides almost half of the hydroxychloroquine coming to the U.S., and the country banned exports of all forms of the drug last month to make sure it has enough for its own citizens.
Several states began putting emergency restrictions or guidelines on the drugs after physicians were found to be writing prescriptions for themselves and their families.
The drugs haven’t been FDA-approved to treat COVID-10, but they are commonly used to treat autoimmune disorders, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and patients who rely on the drugs to treat those disorders have struggled to get their prescriptions as the coronavirus drains the supply.
A mother of a young girl with both lupus and arthritis told the Journal she’s struggled to get her daughter’s hydroxychloroquine prescription and that she was told by one pharmacy to contact health officials in Mexico or Canada to see if she can get the drug from them.
More states are now limiting prescription sizes or asking pharmacists to make sure patients have tested positive for COVID-19.
Texas won’t allow its pharmacists to fill hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine prescriptions for new patients without a written order specifying the use of the drug based on evidence and will only allow pharmacists to dispense a 14-day supply, the Journal reported.
Oregon told its pharmacists to limit prescriptions to patients who have been hospitalized with a positive test or that have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a physician.