As the nation rushes to find a treatment for the Coronavirus, Lupus patients have been impacted.
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Hydroxychloroquine is a medication used by many with the autoimmune disease. However, shortages are being reported across the country, as clinical trials are rolled out to test its effectiveness against COVID-19.
“I prescribe that drug several times per day,” said rheumatologist Dr. Robert Levin. “We use the drug very regularly because it’s safe and effective.”
Caroline Lenz, 38, is a patient of Dr. Levin’s. She was diagnosed with Lupus in 2017.
“Before I was on this medication, my symptoms were out of control,” Lenz said. “I was having so much pain, fatigue. Difficulty being able to function.”
Lenz said she has been able to live a normal life, thanks to Hydroxychloroquine.
“I’ve been on it for about a year and a half now and it's made a huge difference,” Lenz said.
But now patients across the country, including Lenz, are reporting a shortage of the drug.
“Yesterday I called six pharmacies in the area and no one has it in stock,” Lenz said. “It’s extremely stressful.”
Dr. Levin said there are some other medications he can prescribe but, getting what’s proven to work for each individual is a priority.
“I’m extremely concerned,” Dr. Levin said. “We do need to address this and we need to address this now before the patients actually run out of their treatment.”
The Lupus Foundation of America is making efforts to ensure people with Lupus continue to have access to Hydroxychloroquine. The organization has requested both Congress and the administration make those accommodations. For more information, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) and lupus.