Emergency prescription refills possible after executive order Wednesday

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order Wednesday March 25, 2020 allowing pharmacists to issue emergency prescriptions of non-narcotic drugs to those who need them during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/David Eggert)
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LANSING, MI (WILX) - Pharmacists can now dispense emergency refills of prescriptions after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday.

Under the order that takes effect immediately, refills for up to 60 days worth of medicine can be dispensed to patients and require insurers to cover the emergency refills during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release. It ends April 22 but could be renewed as needed.

The order, number 2020-25, will also allow pharmacists to dispense coronavirus treatments according to government-approved protocols.

“No Michigander should be worried about running out of critical medications during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why I signed this Executive Order authorizing pharmacists to refill up to 60 days of medication for their patients and easing restrictions on pharmacists so they can continue to help their patients during this crisis,” Whitmer said in the release. “Residents who are limiting their time in public places and practicing social distancing shouldn’t have to fear running low on their prescription drugs during these trying times.”

The order only applies to non-controlled substances. Pharmacists will also have the discretion to substitute therapeutically equivalent medications without prescriber approval if there are critical shortages.

“This executive order will ease a burden on seniors and families worried about maintaining a supply of medication for themselves or their children,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for Health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in the release. “We continue to urge Michiganders to practice social distancing if they are out in public and to wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer regularly to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- fever;
- cough; and
shortness of breath.

The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is to:
- if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital;
- wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer;
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands;
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing;
- avoid contact with people who are sick;
- if you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others; and
- stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

View the executive order here.