Ohio pharmacists no longer allowed to sell controversial drug to treat, prevent COVID-19

OH pharmacists prohibited from selling, dispensing controversial drugs as COVID-19 treatments

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has issued an administrative rule prohibiting Ohio pharmacists from selling or dispensing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent COVID-19.

The rule, which can be read in full here, goes into effect July 30.

It replaces a previous rule issued on March 22 that authorized pharmacists to prescribe 14-day supplies of the anti-malarial drugs to patients with lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

That rule also prohibited prescriptions to presumptive-positive patients or for preventative use.

The new rule applies to all inpatient and outpatient prescriptions or medication orders.

It voids all prescriptions previously written for the drugs, except those issued as part of a clinical trial.

Pharmacists are still able to prescribe chloroquine for other conditions, though the specific diagnosis code must be provided.

FDA regulators revoked emergency use authorization for the drugs in mid-June after granting the authorization in late March.

According to the Ohio pharmacy board, the FDA made its determination “based on recent results from a large, randomized clinical trial in hospitalized patients that found these medicines showed no benefit for decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery.”

President Trump aggressively pushed hydroxychloroquine beginning in the first weeks of the outbreak and stunned medical professionals when he revealed he had taken the drug preemptively against infection. After Trump’s repeated promotions, prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine soared, contributing to shortages.

As recently as Tuesday, Trump continued to defend use of the drugs as a treatment for COVID-19.

Study: Hydroxychloroquine doesn’t help COVID patients

Sarah Priestle is a pharmacist at Hart Pharmacy in Price Hill. She says thy have been in contact with the state board every day during the pandemic.

“They wanted to make sure that we know to still encourage people to still wear masks, to distance, to wash their hands,” she told FOX19 NOW Wednesday. “Take all of those precautions that we definitely have been encouraging, but not to have prescribers use the drug in an outpatient setting.”

Pertaining to the anti-malarial drugs, Priestle says it hasn’t been much of an issue.

“Right before the emergency ruling, we did get a couple of prescriptions that were possibly for prevention of COVID,” she explained. “We actually didn’t end up dispensing any because the emergency rule came out, so it hasn’t actually been that big of an impact here in our pharmacy.”

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