Whitmer eases restrictions on pharmacists, makes prescription refills easier

Patients worried about getting their medications refilled got a boost from the governor Wednesday.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order allowing pharmacists to dispense emergency refills of prescriptions for up to 60 days’ worth of supply for patients, and requires insurers to cover these emergency refills during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The order also allows pharmacists to dispense COVID-19 treatments according to government-approved protocols. The order takes effect immediately and ends April 22, but could be renewed as needed.

“No Michigander should be worried about running out of critical medications during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why I signed this 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. “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.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive and the Chief Deputy Director for Health, said the directive will “ease a burden on seniors and families” worried about maintaining a supply of medication.

 “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,” Khaldun said.