Emergency Order in NH Limits Use of Hydroxychloroquine, Other Drugs

The order has exceptions for COVID-19 patients who are high risk or hospitalized

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An emergency order has been issued in New Hampshire limiting the use of certain drugs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The order issued Tuesday by Gov. Chris Sununu limits hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine and albuterol due to shortage concerns. The order has exceptions for COVID-19 patients who are high risk or hospitalized.

Although still not clinically proven in the fight against COVID-19, President Donald Trump has been touting the use of hydroxychloroquine in his daily news briefings.

"We stockpiled 29 million pills of the hydroxychloroquine -- 29 million. A lot of drug stores have them by prescription," Trump said Tuesday. "You've heard the expression, 'I've used it for certain reasons.' What do you have to lose?"

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services wanted the emergency order issued because they were finding a statewide shortage of medications for patients who suffer from conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

President Donald Trump defended his statements in support of using malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for coronavirus at a press conference on Sunday, despite experts on the White House task force denying there is any scientific evidence to suggest it would be an effective remedy for the virus.

The new order calls for "controls, restrictions, and rationing" of the drugs.

Manchester rheumatologist Andree Phillips says her patients with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions need the medication and are afraid they won't be able to get it.

"That prescription would need to say that you have this appropriate diagnosis for the medication and that this could not be prescribed as prophylaxis for COVID-19 which means like a preventable treatment," Phillips said. "Obviously I did have concerns about patients not being able to fill their prescription and I think patients were very worried about this as well."

She said making sure there is enough for those who need hydroxychloroquine is most important.

"Many people want to get their hands on hydroxychloroquine and that could be a problem for patients who need it," Phillips said.

The emergency order could remain in effect until New Hampshire's state of emergency is lifted.

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