Fight Over Hydroxychloroquine Developing Between Coronavirus Sufferers and Other Patients

L.P. Phillips
April 08, 2020 - 4:13 pm

DALLAS (KRLD) - A fight over the drug hydroxychloroquine may developing pitting lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients against those suffering from COVID 19. 

Those afflicted with arthritis and the long-term autoimmune disease lupus have been prescribed hydroxychloroquine for years, as it provides significant relief.  But since President Trump began promoting hydroxychloroquine for relief from the COVID 19 virus, supplies are starting to get tight in some areas.

"We have seen an uptick in inquiries about this medication and a lot of questions are coming up from there," said Raj Chhadua, president of the Texas Pharmacy Association.  "In the beginning, we did have a lot of practitioners calling in the medication, mainly to kind of keep on hand."

Since then, new guidelines for filling the prescriptions have been put into place. 

But pharmacists are also fighting another battle.  There have been no long term studies proving hydroxychloroquine helps fight the coronavirus.  With President Trump touting the drug, he may be giving people a false sense of hope.  What's more, there are serious side effects that need to be considered.

Doctors say the COVID 19 virus enters the body through the lungs, travels through the kidneys then attacks the heart.  Pharmacists say a weakened heart is exactly the reason hydroxychloroquine should be given sparingly.

"It does have some significant drug interaction risks as well as for individuals that have either predisposed cardiovascular disease or any arrhythmia hydroxychloroquine can be a problem for those patients," said Chhadua.

Advocates for lupus patients say the search for a COVID 19 cure may be leading then into a fight over the drug.  They say a patient currently on hydroxychloroquine cannot afford to suddenly go without.