BOSTON (CBS) – A drug that President Donald Trump has touted as a possible treatment for coronavirus is now in short supply. While the FDA has not yet approved hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, some people are hoarding it, leaving patients who regularly rely on the medication scrambling.
“It would be a gift from God if that worked. It would be a big game changer,” Trump said of the anti-malarial drug.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and a prominent member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force has cautioned that evidence of its effectiveness in treating coronavirus is still anecdotal.
Now patients who have been using hydroxychloroquine for years to treat other illnesses are having trouble filling their prescriptions.
“Without it the other options are immunosuppression or low dose chemotherapy,” lupus patient Cheryl Hammel told WBZ, “both of which would put you in an immune compromised condition.”
Todd Brown, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Independent Pharmacists Association, said there are two likely reasons behind the shortage.
“Number one, the federal government bought a lot of this medication,” he pointed out. Number two, “individuals are hoarding it in case they get COVID. You know, they want to have a supply at home, which is the unfortunate part.”
“It made me feel like, ok it’s not toilet paper we’re hoarding anymore. It’s medications that are still on the fence,” Hammel said.
The Lupus Foundation said in a statement that they applaud pharmaceutical companies that are pledging to increase production and supply of this medication, and they are calling on all manufacturers to do the same.
Meanwhile, clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment were due to begin in New York Tuesday.