New rules in NC for how certain drugs can be prescribed for COVID-19

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The North Carolina Board of Pharmacy has put emergency rules in place for how antimalarial drugs and antiviral drugs can be prescribed for COVID-19. 

Jay Campbell, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy, said the rules are in response to what they’ve been hearing. 

RELATED: Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

“In the past week, my office received a large number of communications from pharmacists in the state who reported receiving prescriptions … written by physicians for themselves or for family members,” Campbell said.

That led the board to hold an emergency meeting by phone Tuesday afternoon, passing the new rules. Campbell said it was at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Medical Director. 

The new rules apply to seven “restricted drugs” – hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, lopinavir-ritonavir, ribavirin, oseltamivir, darunavir, and azithromycyin. They’re a combination of antimalarial and antiviral drugs. 

Doctors will now need to include a written diagnosis on the prescription. If the diagnosis is COVID-19, they’ll be limited to a 14-day supply.

These drugs can’t be dispensed to prevent the virus.  

The spike in prescriptions started last week when President Donald Trump said two antimalarial drugs could be used to treat the virus.

Trump cited a small study in France. Doctors and scientists have since pushed back, calling for more research and reminding people about the side effects associated with the drugs. 

At Person Street Pharmacy in Raleigh, Maresa Roney, is a pharmacist who has tried to stay on top of developments and wanted to order more of the drugs. 

“There was an allocated amount of only six bottles per pharmacy from our wholesaler and so, we keep checking every day and it’s not even available anymore for purchase,” Roney said.

That’s led to concern there might not be enough of the drugs for those who rely on them. Roney said they’re commonly used to treat autoimmune disorders. 

“Those are those patients I worry the most about if the drug is on backorder because they’re not going to be able to get their normal drugs, their maintenance medicine,” Roney said. 

Click here for a look at the N.C. Board of Pharmacy’s new rules.

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