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One-Third of Lupus Patients Have Trouble Refilling Hydroxychloroquine

Patients report lack of availability at usual pharmacy, waiting weeks for refills, only getting partial refills

WEDNESDAY, June 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) — More than one-third of patients with lupus have experienced significant issues filling their hydroxychloroquine prescription during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the results of a survey released May 28 by the Lupus Research Alliance.

The Lupus Research Alliance conducted an online survey (May 6 to 18) to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability of people with lupus to continue treatment with hydroxychloroquine. In total, 334 responses were completed from patients in 42 states, with 63 percent reporting having taken hydroxychloroquine for more than five years (mean, 11.4 years).

The researchers found that since March 1, 31 percent of respondents had issues getting refills, 5 percent were not able to refill in this time frame, and 4 percent did not need a refill in this time frame. Of those who were not able to or had issues with refills, two-thirds had enough to take a full dose, one-third split doses, and 9 percent of respondents were completely out. Of the 72 people reporting difficulty but eventual success in getting their refill, 36 percent could not get it from their regular pharmacy and 58 percent reported that it took two or more weeks to get their refill.

“While we are encouraged by the results, the Lupus Research Alliance will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Teodora Staeva, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of the Lupus Research Alliance, said in a statement. “We still recommend that people with lupus speak with their health care providers about a contingency plan should any shortages arise in the future.”

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