I brought this topic up a few weeks ago in an article, that there may in fact be a shortage of hydroxychloroquine coming as it was already on back order at several pharmacies (mine included). According to the FDA website as of April 7, 2020 hydroxychloroquine is currently in a shortage. As listed on the FDA’s coronavirus update on April 7 the website said, “there are current stipulations on who gets this drug, it is only approved to treat uncomplicated malaria, chronic discoid lupus erythematosus, systemic lupus erythematosus, and acute and chronic rheumatoid arthritis in adults.” However, also on April 7, 2020 the FDA approved therapeutic use of hydroxychloroquine. It is mainly being used in hospitals for patients that have mild to severe cases of COVID 19.
I had the privilege of speaking with pharmacist Saumil Jani, Pharm.D., RPH that works at The Apothecary Shop in Lake Wales, FL. He assured me for now, “hydroxychloroquine is slowly coming in, last month they ordered as much as possible to fill orders for patients with autoimmune disease who rely on this medication”. He also stated, “his wholesaler Cardinal Health is supplying hydroxychloroquine based on the pharmacy’s six- month ordering history, and that Cardinal Health is doing their best to distribute the drug evenly.”
As of right now Saumil says, “he doesn’t have any patients that are completely out of medication and the pharmacy is getting shipments in a little at a time.” As for the future he is unsure what will happen, but for now his patients are covered. He stated, “that India has promised to send more hydroxychloroquine, and President Trump thanked the Prime Minister Modi of India for their support in exporting hydroxychloroquine.
According to fiercepharma.com pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis, Mylan, and Teva have stepped up production to meet demand not just for patients with COVID 19, but also for those who use it to combat autoimmune disease. According to an article that fiercpharma.com posted on March 24, 2020 these big named pharmaceutical companies have pledged millions of tablets of hydroxychloroquine to be donated to hospitals to fight COVID 19. They have also pledge to step up production. Amneal pledge to make 20 million tablets by mid- April.
Saumil also stated, “he doesn’t know how great the need is for ICU patients, as of now no one has come in to fill a prescription that has COVID 19.” The only prescriptions being filled is for his patients with lupus.
There have been some pharmacies reporting that doctors were writing scripts for family members just in case they contracted COVID 19. I asked if the pharmacy has received any such prescriptions.
Saumil replied, “if someone were to come in with a prescription and had a positive test result he would fill the prescription, but as far as a preventative measure for someone who might not even need the medication, that would take away from a patient who needs hydroxychloroquine.”
He reiterated that the use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure has not been proven, but if it was proven that hydroxychloroquine did prevent the virus then maybe he could understand an ER doctor, nurse, or first responder that could benefit from using the medication.” “The truth is we just don’t know enough to prove whether it works or not,” Saumil said, “and as of right now until there is more of the drug available, we should not be distributing it for preventative measures we should be holding it for those who need it.”
As someone who relies on this medication, I am very thankful for the dedication of Saumil Jani who is putting his patients first. As are thousands of pharmacists across the country. I hope that this puts some of us at ease to know that hydroxychloroquine is slowly coming back into pharmacies as of now, and that pharmaceutical companies are stepping up to fill the need for this life sustaining drug for so many patients with autoimmune diseases. As always have a blessed day and keep fighting warriors.
Signed a fellow warrior,