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WV Bd. of Pharmacy Issues Emergency Rule Limiting Prescriptions for Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine; WV Board of Medicine Instructs Licensees to Comply

By Luke Schmitt

On March 20, 2020, the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy proposed an emergency rule pursuant to its general rulemaking authority seeking to ensure that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine – two drugs thought to be potentially helpful in the treatment of COVID-19 – are only dispensed to individuals currently in need of these drugs.  The emergency rule, Section 15-1-26.1, provides:

26.1 No prescription for chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine may be dispensed except if all the following apply:

    26.1.a. The prescription bears a written diagnosis from the prescriber consistent with the evidence for
    its use;

26.1.b. The prescription is limited to no more than thirty (30) tablets unless the patient was previously established on the    medication prior to the effective date of this rule; and

26.1.c. No refills may be permitted unless a new prescription is furnished. This requirement does not apply to the patient previously established on the medication prior to the effective date of this rule.

This rule has been approved by the West Virginia Secretary of State and is now in effect.

Both nationally and in West Virginia, some prescribers have begun writing prescriptions for these drugs for family, friends, and coworkers in anticipation of the further spread of COVID-19.  This rule limits the ability for persons to obtain prescriptions for these medications by requiring that all new prescriptions for these medications contain a written diagnosis from the prescribing health care provider that is consistent with the medication’s use, limiting the supply to 30 days, and prohibiting refills on prescriptions for these medications.

Today, March 23, 2020, the West Virginia Board of Medicine indicated that licensees should conform their prescribing practices to align with this emergency rule.