Patients unable to receive vital prescriptions as drug goes to treat COVID-19

Hydroxychloroquine, the drug said to be a potential treatment for COVID-19, is traditionally prescribed for malaria, arthritis and lupus -- and now some of these patients are seeing shortages in the medication they’ve relied on for years.

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News Center 7′s Kalya Courvell spoke with Tiffany Vance of Englewood, who’s been on a drug called Plaquenil for 12 years to treat her lupus.

Plaquenil's main ingredient is hydroxychloroquine.

The FDA has not approved hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, but doctors are prescribing it to lessen symptoms and help prevent its spread.

Plaquenil is now facing a shortage, and in areas like New York and California, it’s unavailable in some pharmacies.

Vance has United Healthcare insurance.

When she went to the pharmacy to refill her 60-pills-for-30-days prescription, her insurance would only approve 30 pills for a 90 day supply, allowing her just 15 percent of what she would normally need to prevent a lupus flare up.

It's due to a shortage in the drug, Vance said.

She was able to get an additional 30 pills through a medication program with her pharmacy, but that still only gives her 60 pills for 90 days.

Vance would normally take 180 pills in a 90 day period, and is worried she'll end up in the hospital with a lupus flare-up because she is unable to get the proper amount of medication.

The Lupus Research Alliance in a written statement on their website said they are working with the FDA to preserve hydroxychloroquine.

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