What You Need to Know About Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19 Prevention

By Kaitlyn D’Onofrio - Last Updated: April 6, 2020

Rumors that lupus patients are protected from COVID-19 because many of them take hydroxychloroquine are just that—rumors, according to new information from CreakyJoints.

The use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment against COVID-19 has been touted by President Donald Trump, but these statements are not conclusively supported by the scientific literature.

President Trump, during a White House briefing over the weekend, suggested that “the lupus thing” be investigated further.

“I don’t know what it says, but there’s a rumor out there that because it takes care of lupus very effectively as I understand it, and it’s a, you know, a drug that’s used for lupus,” the president said. “So there’s a study out there that says people that have lupus haven’t been catching this virus. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not.”

Meanwhile, dozens of organizations have joined together to obtain data on patients with rheumatic disease who contract COVID-19. The COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance is a global effort comprised of dozens of different organizations, including the American College of Rheumatology, the European League Against Rheumatism, the British Society of Rheumatology, The Lancet Rheumatology, Arthritis Foundation, and many more. The alliance is asking clinicians to provide data on their patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Data are continuously being collected, but as of now, according to CreakyJoints, lupus patients—including those taking hydroxychloroquine—have in fact tested positive for COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine Shortages Affect Patients

However, the continued mixed messages from the media are leading patients who have been taking hydroxychloroquine since before the pandemic to not being able to receive their medication anymore. This has led to advocacy organizations including the Lupus Foundation of America and Arthritis Foundation calling on pharmacy boards and other involved stakeholders to make sure patients are still receiving the life-saving medications they need.

According to an interview with BuzzFeed News, one systemic lupus erythematosus patient is no longer receiving her medication at all. The patient, identified as a 45-year-old woman named Dale, shared a screenshot of an email she reportedly received from her healthcare provider saying that her prescription will no longer be refilled because they are “conserving the current supply for those who are critically ill with COVID-19.”

“The fact that they thanked me for my ‘sacrifice’ is disturbing,” Dale told BuzzFeed News. “I never agreed to sacrifice my health and possibly my life and cannot believe that I am being forced to do so.”

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