FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas State Board of Pharmacy issued an emergency order that limits orders for a medication that can help treat COVID-19.
Texas pharmacies report a dramatic increase in orders for the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which are often sold under the brand name Plaquenil.
According to recent data, chloroquine orders increased 3,000% nationwide for March and hydroxychloroquine orders increased 260%.
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved these drugs for the treatment of coronavirus, but that has not stopped many Texas doctors from prescribing it.
Hydroxychloroquine is generally prescribed to treat autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Eli Sklarsky takes Plaquenil twice a day to keep his lupus under control. He said he is concerned about a possible shortage of people "hoarding,quot; the drug.
"Just the thought of not taking the medication makes me panic because of the times that I haven't been taking the medication and I've been sick," he explained. "My life would be at risk without it."
The state order of pharmacy emergency order limits all new orders for the drug to a 14-day supply. Prescriptions also require a written diagnosis "with evidence for use."
Pharmacist Carter High, who serves as president of the Texas Alliance of Independent Pharmacists, said he hopes the new order prevents people from "hoarding,quot; and "stockpiling,quot; the drug.
"If those drugs are completely gone for someone to get, that could put someone with lupus in a very bad scenario and potentially mean hospitalization for them," he said.
High said some of these prescriptions appear to be being requested for family or friends of doctors for fear that the drug will not be available later if it is shown to be a treatment for COVID-19.
Cases of even dentists and veterinarians who prescribe large amounts of the medications have also recently been reported to the state.
The FDA will begin clinical trials on the use of the coronavirus drug in New York on Tuesday.