THE Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will allow doctors to issue electronic prescriptions to individuals deemed vulnerable to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).

The FDA issued a circular meant to minimize patient-doctor interactions as hospitals brace for large waves of possible patients during the pandemic. President Rodrigo R. Duterte also placed Luzon island under lockdown, officially called “enhanced community quarantine,” with most people ordered to stay at home and public transport suspended.

FDA Circular No. 2020-007 dated March 17 authorizes all licensed physicians to issue electronic prescriptions through e-mail or other alternative means compliant with the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, which will be accepted as equivalent to written prescriptions.

“To ensure the continuous access of these individuals to prescription and maintenance drugs during the quarantine period, the FDA saw the need to… adopt alternative measures using electronic means of prescribing drugs for the benefit of individuals vulnerable to COVID-19,” according to the circular.

Separate electronic prescriptions are to be issued for antibiotics, anti-infectives, and anti-viral preparations, which are valid for one week after issuance.

Drugstores were ordered recognize the validity of electronic prescriptions.

Senior citizens and persons with disability will be required to issue letters of authorization and send their identification cards to people buying drugs on their behalf. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas