Lupus patients struggle to find hydroxychloroquine now that drug is used in some coronavirus treatments

A medication being studied for its effectiveness in treating coronavirus is now in short supply across the U.S. and it's causing panic among those who rely on it for lupus.

The FDA posted notice of a drug shortage of Hydroxychloroquine and FOX 5 spoke to several lupus patients who are having trouble refilling their prescriptions. 

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Maria Williams of Montgomery County said she has only about a week’s supply left. She takes hydroxychloroquine to prevent lupus symptoms like fever, fatigue, rash and joint pain.

Lupus is a disease that causes the body to attack its own organs and tissues.

Williams said her pharmacist told her there was no medicine on hand to refill her prescription.

“She said, ‘Yeah, we don’t have a right now. I’m going to look around and see if I can find it. You may want to try another store,’” Williams recalled. “So I called another branch of my pharmacy and the lady said, “Yes, the pharmacy medication is out so just keep trying around like what you’re doing.’”

Williams said she kept calling, had no success and is now getting help from her insurance company.

President Trump has touted hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for coronavirus, and it’s already being used on some patients.

There have been success stories reported, but some top doctors say more research is needed to find out if this is a safe and effective treatment.

On Wednesday, Vice President Pence said about four clinical trials were underway studying hydroxychloroquine.

Sydney Evans of Prince George’s County said she’s also struggling to refill her prescription and has even considered rationing the 21 days worth of medication she has left. But she said she also recognizes the urgency in helping coronavirus patients.


“I actually have a best friend whose brother was recently in the hospital with coronavirus in New York City, and they used the medication to help him,” said Evans. “So I’ve definitely heard that it’s being used to help coronavirus patients and honestly, we want the doctors to be able to prescribe the medication to coronavirus patients. If it’s helping, then that’s amazing.”

She said she hopes there is the right balance so lupus patients are not forgotten.

Some arthritis patients use the medication as well. The Arthritis Foundation and Lupus Foundation of America are working to help patients get medication they need.