VDH advises doctors against hoarding potential, but unproven medications to treat COVID-19

Posted at 10:14 AM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 10:16:37-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver is advising Virginia physicians against hoarding potential, but unproven medications to treat COVID-19.

In a letter to Virginia physicians on Wednesday, Oliver says there has been a recent surge in demand for drugs commonly used to treat malaria, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, bacterial infections and other conditions.

“This is leading to an inadequate medication supply for patients already taking these medications for chronic conditions and hospitalized COVID-19 patients being treated with these medications under facility-specific treatment protocols while studies are ongoing,” Oliver wrote.

While there are currently no antiviral drugs approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19, Oliver says some studies suggest potential therapeutic activity of some agents against related coronaviruses.

The Virginia Department of Health in consultation with the Virginia Department of Health Professions recommends the following to physicians:

• Prescriptions for chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, mefloquine and azithromycin should be restricted in the outpatient setting and should require a diagnosis “consistent with the evidence for its use.”

• Community pharmacists should use professional judgement to determine whether a prescription is valid and that there is a bona fide practitioner-patient relationship prior to dispensing.

• Prioritize treatment for continuation of existing medication therapy, inpatient settings, and other indications where there is not an alternative therapy.

• Advise against hoarding these medications or stockpiling.