Demand for Lupus Drug Also Used to Treat COVID-19 Skyrockets

The last time a San Diego woman went to the pharmacy to get her anti-lupus prescription filled, she was denied

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When President Donald Trump announced the medication hydroxychloroquine was a game-changer in treating COVID-19 patients, demand for the prescription drug skyrocketed.

Now a San Diego, California woman who uses the medication to treat her lupus can’t get her prescription refilled.

When Micaela Jimenez came to the pharmacy at the Kaiser Permanente in Rancho Bernardo, her prescription was denied. She’s worried about when and if she’ll get the medication that keeps her lupus from flaring up.

Since her diagnosis about seven years ago, Jimenez has relied on hydroxychloroquine to keep her healthy.

“It prevents me from having flares, it can do awful things depending on what that flare wants to do at any point. It can attack any organ,” Jimenez explained.

Her prescription is so essential, doctors kept her on the medication when she was pregnant with her now 6-month-old son.

NBC 7 found out some Kaiser Permanente patients received a letter saying the medication was being saved for critically-ill COVID-19 patients.

Jimenez did not get the letter, but she did try to contact her doctor and hasn’t heard back.

 “It’s literally just waiting for that house of cards to fall,” she said.

NBC 7 reached out to Kaiser Permanente and received this statement about hydroxychloroquine prescriptions not being filled:

“These drugs were identified as having a potential beneficial impact in the treatment of some severely sick COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized, which has caused demand to rise dramatically. Supplies from drug manufacturers have not caught up.”

The statement goes on to say Kaiser is working to continue filling current prescriptions. But, until supplies can be increased only 14-day refills will be given.

As Jimenez waits to see if her prescription will be filled, she’s hoping it happens soon. She only has a week and a half of medication left.

“I’m literally at the whim of this company to decide when to give me my medications,” she explained.

The Lupus Foundation of America did release a statement saying it is working with the federal government to make sure people with lupus will be protected from a disruption to their medication.

Hydroxychloroquine is also used to treat people with rheumatoid arthritis and malaria.

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