CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s called hydroxychloroquine – a drug in high demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is hope that the drug can be used to treat patients who have the virus. But it is presently used to treat lupus – and lupus patients are suddenly finding it is scarce.
CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot talked with a man who has relied on hydroxychloroquine to treat his lupus for more than 20 years. And now he’s having trouble finding it.
Randy Sutton said he went to fill his prescription at his local pharmacy in Chicago and was told there was no hydroxychloroquine available.
“I need the medicine. I need this for my lupus,” Sutton said. “I ran out and I was trying to fill it and I was panicked, really.”
Sutton said the medication “pretty much is a life-or-death matter for him.”
“I got sick, really bad, with Legionnaires’, took out my kidney and everything,” he said. “This was one of the medications that was prescribed for me. It was a rough go.”
Sutton takes hydroxychloroquine every day, twice. But he has not a dose since Saturday now.
Sutton said he never thought the drug he’s relied on would be in such high demand and that some would be using it to treat COVID-19.
It turns out you have to call around to see what pharmacies have the medication right now.
Le Mignot and CBS 2 Producer Dan Blom made calls. They found four pharmacies that have it, and let Sutton know the locations.
His son Randall captured the moment when they were able to find some at a CVS drugstore.
“Thank you CVS and thank you CBS Channel 2 News,” Randall said. “My dad got his pills. Thank you guys!”
We reached out to Novartis, one of the manufacturers of the drug. The company is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to make sure those with regular prescriptions get them filled.
Walgreens and CVS now have guidelines for supply limits on new and existing prescriptions.