Pharmacists Accuse Doctors of Unethical Virus Moves

They accuse physicians of hoarding unproven drugs with bogus prescriptions
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2020 12:34 PM CDT
Amid Outbreak, Pharmacists Air Complaint Against Doctors

A story at ProPublica airs a disturbing charge being made against doctors by pharmacists. The pharmacists say they're seeing a lot of bogus prescriptions being written for two drugs mentioned as potential treatments for coronavirus. To be clear, both drugs—chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine—have not yet been proven to fight the virus, though clinical trials are underway. But pharmacists say the buzz around them (both have been mentioned by President Trump) seems to have prompted doctors to hoard the drugs for themselves and their families just in case. "It's disgraceful, is what it is," Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, tells the outlet. His group started hearing from pharmacists over the weekend who were skeptical about a sudden uptick in prescriptions for doctors themselves. He likened it to "fraud."

"People are losing their minds about this product," Brian Brito of SMP Pharmacy Solutions in Miami tells ProPublica. "We're selling so much of this stuff and people are just stockpiling it prophylactically if anybody in their family gets sick—they're just holding on to it." The story recounts similar stories from around the country. Those feeling the pinch are patients who suffer from lupus and rheumatoid arthritis because hydroxychloroquine (sold as Plaquenil) and chloroquine are used to treat both. Supplies are so tight that the Lupus Foundation of America and other medical groups asked the White House in a joint statement to make sure that current supplies of the drug are protected. (In Arizona, a man died after he ingested chloroquine phosphate—used to clean fish aquariums—in the mistaken belief it would protect him from the coronavirus.)

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