NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Area Drug and Therapeutics Committee
Greater Glasgow and Clyde Medicines
Medicines Update

(Hydroxy)chloroquine unlicensed COVID-19

Key messages:

  • Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are not licensed to treat COVID-19 related symptoms or prevent infection.
  • Until there is clear, definitive evidence that these treatments are safe and effective for the treatment of COVID-19, they should only be used for this purpose within a clinical trial.
  • Community pharmacists may wish to consider advice from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society below if asked to dispense a private prescription for chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine.

Clinical trials are ongoing to test chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 or to prevent COVID-19 infection. Hydroxychloroquine is being investigated in clinical trials in NHSGGC. These clinical trials are still not completed, so no conclusions have been reached on the safety and effectiveness of this medicine to treat or prevent COVID-19.

Please note, hydroxychloroquine is currently licensed in adults for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, discoid and systemic lupus erythematosus, and dermatological conditions caused or aggravated by sunlight. Chloroquine is currently licensed in adults for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, discoid and systemic lupus erythematosus, amoebic hepatitis and abscess and the treatment and prophylaxis/suppression of malaria.

Please refer to the MHRA for full details of the information published on 25/03/2020.

Advice for community pharmacists receiving private prescriptions for chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has published the following advice on what to consider if you receive a private prescription for chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine. This can be found under Coronavirus - Information for Pharmacists and Teams > Your questions answered:

Community pharmacy has no contractual obligation to dispense private prescriptions.  If you believe a private prescription is clinically inappropriate you can use your professional judgement and refuse to make the supply.

If for example, you receive a private prescription for chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, RPS suggest you consider the following:

  • Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are not licensed to treat COVID-19
  • There is a risk that stock may run low for licensed indications – RPS have received anecdotal reports that people with psoriasis are finding it hard to get hold of hydroxychloroquine
  • Community pharmacy has no contractual obligation to dispense private prescriptions
  • RPS have issued a statement supporting the use of professional judgement.

As with all professional decisions, you should explain your reasoning to the patient and prescriber and make appropriate records.

 

Published 03/04/2020. Medicines Update blogs are correct at the time of publication.