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BRUNSWICK, Maine — A Brunswick man is concerned he could lose access to the drug he says gave him his life back, as it’s being used experimentally to treat COVID-19.
“I’ve been taking this drug for 14 years,” Dan Possumato said.
Possumato suffers from an auto-immune disorder that’s treated with hydroxychloroquine.
“This drug enables me to live a normal life,” Possumato said. “Without it, my symptoms will return.”
He says he needs it to function, but fears he may not be able to get it soon.
President Donald Trump has been touting the drug as a possible treatment for COVID-19 patients, though it hasn’t been proven effective and safe. Clinical trials are now underway.
Hydroxychloroquine tablets are “currently in shortage” according to the FDA, which is allowing the drug to be used for hospitalized coronavirus patients.
The American Medical Association says some physicians are prescribing it for themselves, their families and colleagues for prevention, which the group strongly opposes.
“That’s irresponsible and that hurts people who need this drug to live normal lives,” Possumato said.
He started writing to state officials in March, sharing his concerns about possibly losing access to the drug.
“Right now it doesn’t seem to be the case in Maine and I would like the state to do what it needs to do to keep it that way,” Possumato said.
Recently, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter to the boards of pharmacy, nursing, osteopathic licensure and medicine licensure, recommending they issue guidance to limit inappropriate prescriptions.
Effective April 11, pharmacists are being told to verify new prescriptions for hydroxychloriquine and two other drugs are legitimate and not for prevention, limit prescriptions for diagnosed cases of coronavirus to a 14-day supply, and continue filling 90-day supplies for existing prescriptions used to treat other conditions
Possumato is relieved to see the state taking action.
“If it proves to be a game changer, great, I’m all for it,” Possumato said. “But right now, don’t shut out the people that need it for other medical purposes.”
The Board of Pharmacy’s guidance does have some teeth to it. If a pharmacist were to dispense the drugs contrary to the board’s guidelines, that could constitute unprofessional conduct and they could be disciplined.
The Board of Osteopathic Licensure and the Board of Licensure in Medicine issued a joint statement concerning the relevant medications on Wednesday.
Watch: Janet Mills speaks to people who think they’re not at risk