Lexington pharmacists wary of medicine hoarding, treatment misinformation

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – With an illness as new as COVID-19, there are a lot of questions regarding the medications that can be used to treat it. There have been several high-profile stories about certain drugs, but some experts say it’s too early to know if they’re effective.

Local pharmacists say the bottom line is: listen to your doctor and follow his or her instructions. (Photo: WKYT/Victor Puente)

One medication that’s gotten a lot of attention is hydroxychloroquine. President Trump mentioned it by name as a potential treatment, but a professor of pharmacy at the University of Kentucky tells WKYT it’s too early to know if it’s actually effective.

“Probably doesn’t do any harm in using it in severe cases of COVID 19 when there are no other options, says Dr. Frank Romanelli. “Putting it in terms recommending it broadly to everyone as a cure-all for COVID-19, the data is not there at all yet.”

He says the study that’s been referenced only involved 20 people, far fewer than the thousands normally needed to determine the effectiveness of a drug.

Lexington pharmacist Clarence Sullivan says he’s gotten a few questions about the drug, which is normally used to treat arthritis and malaria cases.

He says it’s best to rely on your doctor for questions about the drug - and under no circumstances take something similar. He references a couple in Arizona who ingested the chemical chloroquine because it had a similar name.

“You can have really terrible results like an individual in Arizona did,” says Sullivan. “It was a fatality. That’s just horrendous. So you just don’t do things like that. If you’re going to take something like this it’s got to be on a prescription under the supervision of your physician.”

There’s also a fear that misinformation will lead people who don’t need that drug to try to stockpile it.

Dr. Romanelli says there have also been questions about ibuprofen and ace inhibitors being harmful to someone with COVID-19. Romanelli says so far, there’s no real evidence on either medication, so those who have been prescribed ace inhibitors should probably keep taking them. People with fears about ibuprofen you can switch to Tylenol. In either case, it’s best to just listen to a doctor’s advice.