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Recently-Imposed Restrictions on the Prescribing and Dispensing of Potential COVID-19 Medications

April 7, 2020
By Mohamed H. Nabulsi and Christopher G. Salloum

The Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has ordered that, with respect to the treatment of COVID-19 patients, the prescribing and dispensing of drugs in short supply — including hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two drugs that are widely being used by practitioners worldwide to treat COVID-19 — be restricted as follows:

For Prescribers:

1. All prescriptions for any drugs in short supply due to their use in possible treatment of COVID-19 must contain a diagnosis or diagnostic code. Failure to include the diagnosis or diagnostic code on the prescription will invalidate the prescription.

2. Medications in short supply, which expressly include hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, should not be prescribed as prophylaxis against COVID-19.

3. Prescribers should not stockpile hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, and other medications in short supply, in their offices.

4. Prescribers should not prescribe hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, and other medications in short supply for themselves or their families and friends.

5. All prescriptions written should be for treatment of conditions within the prescriber’s scope of practice. In other words, podiatrists, dentists, and veterinarians should not be writing prescriptions for medications intended to treat COVID-19.

6. All prescriptions written for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 must be supported by a positive test result. That positive test result must be documented on the prescription, and in the medical record, and shall be limited to a 14-day supply, with no refills permitted.

For Dispensers:

1. Pharmacists must refuse to fill prescriptions for any medication in short supply due to their use in possible treatment of COVID-19, unless they contain a diagnosis or diagnostic code.

2. Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine shall not be dispensed unless the prescription documents a positive test result.

3. Dispensing of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are limited to a 14-day supply, with no refills permitted.

4. Pharmacists shall not fill prescriptions for drugs for treatment of COVID-19 if the pharmacist believes that the prescriber is acting outside the scope of his or her practice.

None of the above-mentioned restrictions or limitations applies to dispensing or prescribing of any drugs for inpatient hospital use. In addition, prescribers may still prescribe, and pharmacists may still dispense, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for lupus or other autoimmune diseases or other pre-existing conditions, and such prescriptions shall not be subject to the 14-day supply limitation. If the prescription for hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine is newly issued by the prescriber for a pre-existing condition, the prescription must contain a diagnosis or diagnostic code which support continued dispensing with refills.

Violations of the above restrictions may result in administrative disciplinary action against the prescriber or dispenser.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
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