Shortages of hydroxychloroquine worry local lupus and arthritis patients

Coronavirus

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As KELOLAND News first reported at the beginning of this week, in addition to the ones getting underway in South Dakota, there are at least a dozen clinical trials across the country currently ongoing for hydroxychloroquiine to treat COVID-19.

The huge demand for the drug typically used for arthritis, lupus, malaria and other conditions is creating shortages across the country. That has patients who rely on the medicine, worried about getting it in the future and what it may cost.

Nearly 20 years ago, LeDar Bartholomaus thought she was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, which runs in her family.

“I was having some real bad pains in my knees. I couldn’t even walk up the steps,” Bartholomaus said.

But then things got even more serious. She was hospitalized with fluid in her lungs and heart. In addition to arthritis, she also had lupus. Her doctor told her there was a drug that could help.

LeDar Bartholomaus has used hydroxychloroquine to treat her lupus and rheumatoid arthritis for 18 years

Kennecke: When were you prescribed the hydroxychloroquine?
Bartholomaus: When I was out of the hospital and had the fluid around my heart. And I was on 200 mg twice a day.

Eventually that dosage was cut in half. She’s been on hydroxycholoquine ever since. Because the drug is vital to her health, she’s worried about all of the recent attention.

“I’m a nurse and when Trump said this first time and announced this drug, I immediately called my pharmacist that same day and said, ‘Can I refill mine?’ Because anytime someone who promotes something like that, you know what is going to happen,” Bartholomaus said.

What happened was the FDA put hydroxycholorquine on the shortage list.

“It is definitely a shortage situation right now. It’s kind of hit or miss depending on the manufacturer. Sometimes it available to order or even the next day, hour by hour, they’ll be out.”

Lori Ollerich, SD Pharmacists Association President

Ollerich says many pharmacies anticipated the shortage and stocked up. The compounding pharmacy where she works can also make it. In addition to supply shortages, patients are worried about a potential price hike.

“We have to have it for our diagnosis it’s got nothing to do with COVID-19 and if it’s a miracle drug, what’s the cost going to be for a “miracle drug?” Bartholomaus said.

“It depends on the manufacturer too. We have some price points we can get at a pretty fair price, the other ones are three times the price for the same generic medication,” Ollerich said.

The Lupus Foundation of America says it is actively working to address the supply issue so that patients who need the drug can get it.

Joint letter to White House Coronoavirus Task Force

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