Every aspect of life has been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately for people with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, this includes being able to reliably access the medications they rely on for treatment.
What does COVID-19 have to do with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus?
On the surface, nothing. The connection comes via a drug that is currently being studied as a possible method of treating the COVID-19. The drug, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), has traditionally been a part of treatment plans for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus for decades.
Suddenly, due to the hype surrounding HCQ people are having difficulty getting their longstanding prescriptions filled. Pharmacies have reported HCQ “being back ordered to the point they aren’t expecting to get it anytime soon.”
The drug has been talked about by politicians such as President Donald J. Trump as well as doctors who have appeared on TV programs as a possible cure. Before the potential COVID-19 treatment is confirmed it will need to go through many trials and processes to ensure it is safe for us as a treatment and does not result in negative side effects.
The situation surrounding HCQ has shown how important it is for people to rely on the advice of their own personal doctors and only take drugs as prescribed. In one tragic case, a couple in Arizona took a non-therapeutic version of the drug they purchased from a pet store. The version they ingested – intended for use in aquariums – left the husband dead and the grieving widow facing severe complications.
“Given the uncertainty around Covid-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so,” Dr. Daniel Brooks, the medical director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center in Phoenix, said in a statement.
Whether you are concerned about the availability of HCQ to treat your RA or lupus symptoms or you are seeking treatment for COVID-19 symptoms, one thing remains clear: your best bet is to talk to your doctor, take their advice, and only take medications as prescribed.