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Nevada Pharmacy Board joins Gov. Sisolak to stop COVID-19 'drug hoarding'

Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an emergency regulation
Sisolak screenshot.jpg
Posted at 3:48 PM, Mar 24, 2020

MARCH 25 UPDATE: The Nevada State Board of Pharmacy has adopted an emergency regulation that restricts the prescribing and dispensing of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board says the restrictions are to help the health and safety of Nevadans.

The board adopted the emergency regulation in consultation with the governor’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Team, to prevent the hoarding and stockpiling of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, as this may result in a shortage of supplies of these drugs for legitimate medical purposes.

UPDATE: Gov. Sisolak signs new emergency directive limiting groups in public

As of Wednesday, hydroxychloroquine is under investigation for use in the treatment of COVID-19, according to the board. The safety and efficacy of the drug has not been established.

The provisions of the emergency regulation do not apply to a chart order for an inpatient in a hospital or other institutional setting. Hospital patients receiving the drug will continue to receive chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.

The provisions of this emergency regulation do not apply to a current course of treatment for a diagnosis made before the effective date of the rule.

Prescriptions are to continue a course of treatment for a diagnosis made before the effective date and must not exceed a 30-day supply at any given time, according to the board.

The emergency regulation is to ensure access for Nevada patients to chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for legitimate medical purposes.

11 P.M. UPDATE: Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed emergency regulations for two specific drugs which have been used to treat malaria and other illnesses but also shown promise in some patients in the battle against COVID-19.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which also goes by the name brand Plaquenil, among others, are now restricted under the emergency declaration signed by Gov. Sisolak, Tuesday.

"I have an auto immune disorder called scleroderma," said Allyson Baptiste, who takes hydroxychloroquine.

"If I don't take it then I get really, really tired my joints hurt really, really bad like to the point where it's hard for me to even grasp a pencil and I help slow the progression of scleroderma," explained Baptiste.

Baptiste tells 13 Investigates her usual prescription has become harder to fill due to a nationwide increase in demand for the medication due to the promising results seen in patients who are battling COVID-19.

"They found in China that there were some efficacy or success using it and the coronavirus patients or patients that were suffering severe coronavirus when that news broke a lot of doctors wanted to try it and they were cases of success with that medication," said Dr. Daliah Wachs, a family physician and syndicated radio show host.

Even the president mentioned the medication during a recent news conference.

"At my direction, the federal government is working to help obtain large quantities of chloroquine," said President Donald Trump.

"We think it might work on this, based on evidence, based on very strong evidence," added President Trump.

The drugs, experts warn, come with potential dangers and even deadly side effects if taken without proper medical supervision.

“It could affect the heart, cause renal dysfunction, liver dysfunction, retinopathy issues with the back of the eye and lose your sight," explained Dr. Wachs.

This warning comes as an Arizona couple is making national headlines for taking a variation of chloroquine.

RELATED: Man dies, wife hospitalized after taking chemicals to protect from coronavirus

Authorities say the couple took chloroquine phosphate, the active ingredient in aquarium cleaner which is used to kill algae.

The couple, authorities believe, took the substance in an effort to guard against COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus.

The man suffered cardiac arrest died, and his wife is in critical condition at a Phoenix-area hospital.

ORIGINAL STORY: Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an emergency regulation today related to the prescription of two drugs that some are saying may help patients with COVID-19.

While the drugs serve necessary medical purposes, there is no consensus among COVID-19 experts or Nevada’s own medical health advisory team that the two drugs provide treatment for COVID-19 patients. The emergency regulation is aimed at preventing hoarding of the drugs.

“This emergency regulation protects Nevadans who needs these drugs for legitimate medical purposes. At this point in time, there is no known cure for COVID-19 and we must not withhold these drugs from those who need them,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak.

“The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home for Nevada, not to stockpile these drugs.”

RELATED: 13 Helps coronavirus resources

The regulation prohibits the prescribing and dispensing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for a COVID-19 diagnosis, requires an ICD-10 code on prescriptions for the drugs and limits the prescription amount to a 30-day supply for the drugs.

The emergency regulation will ensure access for Nevada patients to chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for legitimate medical purposes.

“This emergency regulation is a strong step in protecting patients. While studies are underway on the usefulness of these drugs in treating COVID-19, we must deal with facts, not fiction,” said Dr. Ishan Azzam, the chief medical officer for the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health. “Preserving these drugs for those who need it is the right decision.”