Hydroxychloroquine to Help Fight COVID-19 but Shortages for Lupus Patients a Concern
On March 20, 2020, TEVA Pharmaceuticals made a very important announcement:
As per the company announcement: TEL AVIV, Israel & PARSIPPANY, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- "Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE and TASE: TEVA) announced today the immediate donation of more than 6 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets through wholesalers to hospitals across the U.S. to meet the urgent demand for the medicine as an investigational target to treat COVID-19. The company is also looking at additional ways to address the global need."
Although we all would agree that this action was warranted to forge forward to assist in the fight to battle our current global pandemic, we are reporting the shortage of hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) for Lupus patients who rely on this medication.
Lupus is an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues.
Lupus (SLE) can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. Symptoms vary but can include fatigue, joint pain, rash, and fever. These can periodically get worse (flare-up) and then improve. While there's no cure for lupus, current treatments focus on improving quality of life through controlling symptoms and minimizing flare-ups. This begins with lifestyle modifications, including sun protection and diet. Further disease management includes medications, such as anti-inflammatories and steroids. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is also widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and childhood arthritis (or juvenile idiopathic arthritis) and other autoimmune diseases.
As per a Salon article published on March 28, 2019: "Right now, hydroxychloroquine is one of the few FDA-approved drugs for lupus, said Ashira Blazer, a rheumatologist and researcher at NYU Langone Health. The medication is a staple of lupus treatment because it has been shown to decrease symptom flare-ups, or "flares." Over time, this leads to better health and less organ damage, Blazer said. Patients who take hydroxychloroquine are less likely to develop diabetes, kidney disease, and early heart disease, among other benefits. Because so many lupus patients are doing well on hydroxychloroquine, Blazer said, "we don't want them to have to go without."
I would certainly be remiss if I didn't express my personal connection to the current shortfall of hydroxychloroquine. Since the news broke regarding this drug being a possible resolve for COVID-19, I have a sincere concern regarding this shortage. I know many individuals within our population who have loved ones, caregivers, and even patients, who suffer from lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Many of these patients rely on this vial medication and are reporting the dire straits they are experiencing when trying to obtain Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil).
As the leader of WeHaveAFace.org, I must do everything in my power to help our population during these trying times. I have faith that TEVA Pharmaceuticals will work diligently with patients and families who are suffering from this shortage. I urge TEVA to reach out to us directly so we can bridge gaps and assist our patients and families who need Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil).
*If you are a patient or family member of an individual who is directly affected by this shortage, I urge you to comment below with as much information as possible. Or, send us an email - info@WeHaveAFace.org.
WeHaveAFace.org will publish updates to this article as we receive additional information.