People are panic-buying two anti-malarial drugs rumored to help combat the coronavirus — causing a dire global shortage, health experts say.
The drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, are not only essential to fight malaria but also help curb the inflammatory issues of lupus and arthritis patients.
“When I think about the other people out there with lupus and other autoimmune disorders, we’re all really scared right now,” lupus sufferer Anna Valdez told ProPublica.
President Trump helped create a flurry of demand for the drugs when he announced last week that chloroquine “could be a game-changer” and that the FDA had already approved it as treatment for coronavirus sufferers, which it has not.
Trump also said hydroxychloroquine could be used in prevention.
But the country’s leading infectious-disease doctor, Anthony Fauci, quickly followed up by repeating what most medical providers believe — there is no substantive proof, at least yet, that either drug works in the battle against the deadly pandemic.
“The information you’re referring to specifically is anecdotal,” Fauci said when responding to a reporter’s question about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine against the virus.
But that hasn’t stopped people everywhere from Texas in the US to France and Nigeria to make runs on the drugs — and some doctors to prescribe them when it comes to the virus.
“We have a drug that’s not expensive, that’s well-tolerated and that seems to work quite well,” Dr. Christian Perronne, who works at a hospital outside Paris, told the Wall Street Journal of hydroxychloroquine.
“Are we going to wait until there’s more deaths before we say, ‘Actually, it’s not bad?’ Until we find something better we have to use it. We have to go for it. We’re practicing military
A Florida man also told a Los Angeles TV station that he was suffering from severe coronavirus symptoms and near death when he took hydroxychloroquine — and recovered.
Still, regulatory pharmacy boards in some states, including Texas, Ohio, Idaho and Nevada, have started to restrict the drug’s usage amid the shortage.