Last updated 08/06/2020
Hydroxychloroquine, a medication taken by approximately 90% of lupus patients to control their condition has received a lot of recent media attention as one of the drugs being trialled as a potential treatment for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
On 5th June 2020, the Chief Investigators of the Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY (RECOVERY) Trial on hydroxychloroquine published a statement. They concluded from the trial that there is “no beneficial effect of hydroxychloroquine in patients hospitalised with COVID-19”.
What action is being taken to ensure a stable supply of hydroxychloroquine for people with lupus?
The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MRHA) has published guidance stating, “Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are not licensed to treat COVID-19 related symptoms or prevent infection…Until we have clear, definitive evidence these treatments are safe and effective for the treatment of COVID-19, they should only be used for this purpose within a clinical trial.”
What should I do if my pharmacy doesn’t have any hydroxychloroquine?
In March 2020 many people with lupus in the UK experienced difficulty with fulfilling their prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine. This has been attributed to a short-term increase in demand which exhausted stocks in some regional depots. Our understanding is that this problem has now been resolved.
If you have been told by your pharmacy that they do not currently have any hydroxychloroquine tablets available, you could try asking other local pharmacies in your area (it is probably best phoning them rather than making the journey).
If you have an electronic prescription you can request a change to your nominated pharmacy to have it dispensed by one with the tablets in stock. If you decide to do this, please be aware that it will also affect any other regular prescription items.
If you wish to collect your medication from a different pharmacy as a ‘one-off” you will need to contact your medical team and request that your prescription is re-issued as a physical form which will allow you to collect your items from a different pharmacy. If you are shielding and do not have a friend or family member who can assist you with collecting your prescription/medication, please contact your local council for information about voluntary services in your area who can help.
We have had reassurance from Blackrock Pharmaceuticals and Zentiva that they have adequate stock available and more supplies are continuing to enter the market. We have, as yet, been unable to confirm this with Bristol Laboratories. If you are struggling to obtain a specific version of this generic medication, please take a look at our guidance HERE.
If you have previously been unable to fulfil your prescription at your pharmacy, it is worth contacting them again to see whether they are now able to order it for you.
No person with a rheumatological condition, such as lupus, should attempt to stockpile hydroxychloroquine. Such actions would be counterproductive and could contribute to a completely artificial shortage affecting other people with the disease.
If you have experienced difficulty obtaining hydroxychloroquine, please Contact Us.
We will share more information as the situation develops.