Md. mom says her child’s medicine is in short supply amid pandemic

The mom of a 12-year-old with lupus believes a federal order allowing experimental use of two drugs commonly used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, is making it harder to fill her child’s prescription.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine after they were endorsed by President Donald Trump for coronavirus treatment.

Now, Stephanie Wolfe of Mt. Airy, Maryland, said her local pharmacist is unable fill her child’s prescription.

“She worked for several hours, trying to find the drugs at other pharmacies,” Wolfe said.

Driving to a pharmacy outside her community, Wolfe got a two week supply, and after working with her health care provider, received a promise more would come by mail.

“They are saying they are going to send something,” Wolfe said.

However, if more supplies are made available, Wolfe said her worries aren’t over.

“That gives me a month and a half to worry about this all over again,” she said.

Although Wolfe is frustrated about the availability of her son’s medicine, she does not resent it also being used to try helping coronavirus patients.

“I’m certainly glad that they feel that this is going to help,” she said.

Yet, Wolfe is still concerned people previously prescribed the medicine won’t have access.

“They really need to bump up supply quickly,” she said.

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are also used to treat sarcoidosis and dermatomysitis.

“For those patients who are taking these medicines as outpatients for other chronic conditions, these are challenging times,” Dr. Bruce Wollman, an associate medical director for Kaiser Permanente, said.

So, what should patients do?

“It’s important that if you’re taking these medications to contact your doctor, ideally with a phone call or a video visit, just to make sure that if you can be switched to a different medicine, to get switched,” Wollman advised.

“But, if this is the best thing for you — just to make sure that you’re getting the best care you need,” Wollman said.

Kaiser Permanente is among health care systems using the drugs to try to help COVID-19 patients.

“For those patients, the data that we have says, ‘this might be helpful for them,’ we’re going to be prescribing it,” Wollman said.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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