RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A drug used to treat diseases like malaria, lupus and arthritis is now being used to treat COVID-19 patients, which is causing a shortage for people who already have prescriptions.
Richmond resident Angel Williams lives with lupus and is an ambassador for the Lupus Foundation of America. The autoimmune disease causes flares and the body’s immune system attacks its own organs. Williams has taken hydroxychloroquine for more than 20 years to help.
“I am alive today because of the medication. I have less flares because of the medication,” Williams told 8News.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the drug has been in a shortage since March 31.
There are no drugs approved by the FDA to prevent or treat COVID-19 right now, but the Centers for Disease Control is investigating hydroxychloroquine in clinical trials to see how well it works against the virus.
“Of course we want everyone to be well. We want everyone to be healthy. However, the shortage for us, if I don’t have my medicine, I will die too,” said Williams.
Williams said she does not know exactly what will happen if she does not get her medication, but she fears her organs will start failing. She ended up in the ICU when she stopped taking the drug for about a month as a child.
“The lupus started to attack my kidneys. I ended up in the ICU. I almost died,” Williams said.
Williams has about one week left of her 90-day prescription. She tried filling it yesterday with her pharmacy but it is has not been filled yet.
“I’ve heard nothing about that particular prescription. I also tried to fill other prescriptions. I have heard back about those and those are ready, but my hydroxychloroquine is not there yet,” she said.
Now, Williams is left wondering what will happen.
“Will I have it? If I don’t have it, what will happen to me? Will I live? And that’s a hard pill to swallow,” Williams said. “My fear is without my medication, I’m going to die.”
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