As nation's hydroxychloroquine supply dwindles, patients who rely on it begin to worry: 'Like survival of the fittest'

As nation's hydroxychloroquine supply dwindles, patients who rely on it begin to worry: 'Like survival of the fittest'
© Getty

Lupus patients in the U.S. who rely on hydroxychloroquine are beginning to worry as the nation's supply of the drug dwindles in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, calling the situation "survival of the fittest."

According to USA Today, Jennifer McCollom, 48, of Thornton, Colo. has grappled with lupus for eight years, and couldn't get her medication for more than two weeks due to supply shortages of hydroxychloroquine.

She said the drug she requires "should not be used as a prophylactic."

ADVERTISEMENT

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE announced Monday that his doctor prescribed him the use of the antimalarial drug as a preventative solution to fight the coronavirus.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added hydroxychloroquine to its list of drugs in shortage on March 31, following a surge of state and local governments stockpiling it throughout March.

Data shared by Vizient, a group purchasing organization that serves nearly 3,000 medical facilities in the U.S., showed the demand for hydroxychloroquine surged almost 17 times higher in April compared to January.

The report added that the available volume of the drug last month was only half of the total units ordered.

"It shouldn't be hoarded away from people who are sick like us," said McCollum. "It feels to me like survival of the fittest right now."

The brand name drug Plaquenil is commonly prescribed to treat people with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and is approved by the FDA to relieve flare-ups of the disease. Of the 1.5 million Americans that have some form of lupus, 90 percent are women.

Tamika Rodriguez, 39, of Deltona, Fla., also needs the drug for her condition, saying that she was in much less pain when the drug was readily available to her. Without it, she needs help with day-to-day tasks such as taking a shower.

"I feel useless," she said. "Now, I'm not on it, and I'm looking around my house, and I don't even know where and when I'm going to be able to pick up the pieces."