Recent news reports indicate that in response to the coronavirus pandemic, some physicians are inappropriately prescribing medications (including chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and azithromycin) to prevent or treat COVID-19 for themselves or their family members, and that some pharmacies and hospitals may be stockpiling these medications in anticipation of future demand.
In the midst of a national emergency, it is essential that the nation’s health care providers carefully follow established guidance and clinical evidence in making decisions regarding prescribing, and that patients with appropriate needs have access to approved medications.
Physicians, pharmacists, pharmacies, and hospitals have an ethical duty to put the needs of patients first, and this includes observing strict prescribing guidelines. On March 28, the Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for use of oral formulations of chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate. The authorization allows these medications to be prescribed by doctors for hospitalized adult and adolescent patients “for whom a clinical trial is not available, or participation is not feasible.” Physicians should avoid prescribing for themselves or their family members and should be aware that deviating from the standard of care could put their medical license at risk.
Pharmacists should exercise their professional judgment in ensuring the safe and appropriate dispensing of medications, including making reasonable inquiries of prescribers. Pharmacies and hospitals should refrain from inappropriate stockpiling of these medications — which may dangerously limit their availability for patients who may ultimately need such medications and for those with conditions other than COVID-19.
The FSMB and the NABP have both established COVID-19 web resource pages, and we encourage physicians, pharmacists, hospitals, and other organizations with questions about prescribing, licensing, and other regulatory matters to visit:
As the national organizations representing state and territorial health regulatory boards in the United States that regulate the practice of medicine and pharmacy, we applaud the efforts of the nation’s health professionals who are capably responding to this national crisis, while urging greater adherence to safe and ethical prescribing and dispensing practices as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
About the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy:
Founded in 1904, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) aims to ensure the public’s health and safety through its pharmacist license transfer and pharmacist competence assessment programs, as well as through its VIPPS, VAWD, and DMEPOS accreditation programs. NABP’s member boards of pharmacy are grouped into eight districts that include all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, and all 10 Canadian provinces. The Association is governed by its Executive Committee, whose officers and members are elected during the Association’s Annual Meeting.
About the Federation of State Medical Boards:
The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) is a national non-profit organization representing the 71 medical boards within the United States and its territories that license and discipline allopathic and osteopathic physicians and, in some jurisdictions, other health care professionals. The FSMB serves as the voice for state medical boards, supporting them through education, assessment, research and advocacy while providing services and initiatives that promote patient safety, quality health care and regulatory best practices. The FSMB serves the public through Docinfo.org, a free physician search tool which provides background information on the nearly 1 million doctors in the United States. To learn more about FSMB, visit www.fsmb.org. and follow FSMB on Twitter (@theFSMB).