Lupus patients who rely on hydroxychloroquine face shortage

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A drug that’s been used by some doctors to treat patients with COVID-19 is affecting some Lupus patients who rely on the drug.

President Donald Trump recently announced that hydroxychloroquine could be a “game-changer” to help treat patients with the novel coronavirus. The Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Authorization of the drug amid the pandemic, and confirmed there are shortages due to a surge in demand.

Earl Thompson told News4Jax that he’s had lupus for four years. He said hydroxychloroquine is how he copes with the pain.

“If you don’t have this, it is excruciating,” Thompson said. “Your legs are inflamed. Your joints hurt. It hurts to walk. It hurts to sit.”

Thompson usually gets a 90-day supply of hydroxychloroquine tablets, but he learned there was a hold on his prescription.

“Recently, it requires a prior authorization and a quantity limit, where previously, it’s never had a quantity limit, and it’s never had a prior authorization," he said.

Cindi Avila, who is also a patient with lupus, said she too has run into issues.

“The pharmacist told me we will not have your medicine for you today, and it could be months before we get it in," Avila said.

Thompson says he was able to get the medication, but only 40 tablets, which he said will cover him for 20 days.

At least 22 states have passed regulations to limit hydroxychloroquine prescriptions, according to the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations. Typically, the regulations require doctors to write a diagnosis on the prescription.

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