The licensing boards that govern Maine’s doctors are advising that prescribing the drugs chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for themselves or family members would be considered “unprofessional conduct.”

Additionally, the boards said doctors should not prescribe the drugs for prophylactic, or preventative, purposes to guard against COVID-19 and should prescribe them with caution for those who have the disease.

A joint statement issued late Thursday by the Board of Licensure in Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Licensure said improper prescribing, “may negatively impact drug supplies impacting the health of existing patients who are established on these medications for treatment of their disease, and may lead to improper use which can cause patient harm.”

The statement from the two boards comes just days after the Maine Board of Pharmacy issued similar guidance to pharmacists.

For weeks, President Trump and others have touted the benefits of the drugs to treat symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Although there have been some benefits, there are also serious side effects and the drugs have not been studied enough to draw conclusions.

Nevertheless, there have been reports that people are stockpiling the drugs.


Pharmacy board chair Joe Bruno this week said he knows of a doctor who prescribed a 100-day supply of chloroquine to a patient who did not have any symptoms of COVID-19. The prescription was denied, said Bruno, who runs a chain of pharmacies in southern Maine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an order in late March authorizing the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized settings, but doctors can still prescribe them as they see fit.

The guidance released by Maine’s regulatory boards is meant to ensure that there is adequate supply of the drugs for non-COVID-19 diagnoses, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

The statement from the Maine doctors boards’ also acknowledged some of the severe side effects, such as heart problems, that have been documented by use of the drugs to treat COVID-19.

“Physicians and physician assistants are reminded to prescribe appropriately and to consider medication side effects, drug interactions, contraindications, and appropriate monitoring requirements (e.g. laboratory and cardiac testing),” it read. “Meeting appropriate monitoring requirements for patients may be limited or restricted during this pandemic. You must exercise sound professional judgment and adhere to evidence-based standards of practice in making your prescribing and treatment decisions.”

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