News Story

Michigan Licensing Bureau Vs. Dr. Fauci On Off-Label Coronavirus Treatment

Fauci tells MDs, 'Yeah, of course' - prescribe it; state agency threatens their license if they do

Media reports are saying preliminary studies indicate some anti-malarial drugs may be effective in reducing COVID-19 coronavirus symptoms, especially when combined with certain current anti-viral medications.

But Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has warned physicians and pharmacists they are breaking state laws if they prescribe or dispense the drugs hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for coronavirus patients.

The Department says that it has “received multiple allegations of Michigan physicians inappropriately prescribing” the drugs, and reports “will be evaluated and may be further investigated for administrative action.”

That is likely not the view of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is widely regarded as one of the nation’s foremost experts in addressing this crisis. Asked on a Philiadelphia radio station whether he would prescribe these drugs for coronavirus victims Fauci responded:

"Yeah, of course, particularly if people have no other option," Fauci said, according to Townhall. "These drugs are approved drugs for other reasons. They're anti-malaria drugs, and they're drugs against certain autoimmune diseases like lupus. Physicians throughout the country can prescribe that in an off-label way. Which means they can write it for something it was not approved for."

David Harns, communications manager for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs was asked why LARA seemed to be in conflict with Fauci.

"We believe the communication we sent on Tuesday was a good reminder for our licensees that – even in times of crisis – they still have an obligation to follow appropriate prescribing and dispensing requirements and provide the best standards of care to their patients," Harns said in an email. "Hoarding and stockpiling drugs and prescribing such drugs to oneself and also to friends and family is not lawful and goes against the standards of care that our licensed professionals strive to achieve on a daily basis."

Harns continued: "Licensees are required to use their best clinical judgment and apply medical justification when treating patients with medications and prescription drugs."

Here is the full message LARA sent to prescribers and dispensers:

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has received multiple allegations of Michigan physicians inappropriately prescribing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to themselves, family, friends, and/or coworkers without a legitimate medical purpose.

Prescribing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine without further proof of efficacy for treating COVID-19 or with the intent to stockpile the drug may create a shortage for patients with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or other ailments for which chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are proven treatments. Reports of this conduct will be evaluated and may be further investigated for administrative action. Prescribing any kind of prescription must also be associated with medical documentation showing proof of the medical necessity and medical condition for which the patient is being treated. Again, these are drugs that have not been proven scientifically or medically to treat COVID-19.

Michigan pharmacists may see an increased volume of prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and should take special care to evaluate the prescriptions’ legitimacy. Pursuant to Michigan Administrative Code, R 338.490(2), a pharmacist shall not fill a prescription if the pharmacist believes the prescription will be used for other than legitimate medical purposes or if the prescription could cause harm to a patient.

It is also important to be mindful that licensed health professionals are required to report inappropriate prescribing practices. LARA appreciates all licensed health professionals for their service and cooperation in assuring compliance in acting responsibly while continuing to provide the best possible care for Michigan’s citizens during this unprecedented and very challenging time.