Maybe you’ve heard of this drug? I’ve been intimately familiar with it since long before covid-19. For 14 years, since I was diagnosed at 26, I have taken hydroxychloroquine to treat Sjogren’s syndrome, a systemic disease that causes crushing fatigue and joint pain, among other symptoms, and can damage the kidneys, liver, lungs, nerves and skin.
The president first began touting hydroxychloroquine in March, when he called it a potential “game-changer” in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. This predictably led to shortages, as doctors and others worried about the virus began stockpiling the drug. Those of us who take the medication for Sjogren’s and other autoimmune conditions, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, were left counting down our pills as we struggled to obtain refills.
“I, too, need hydroxychloroquine, three times a day or risk death,” one person emailed me after I first wrote about this two months ago. “I was told by our pharmacies that since the president’s premature announcement, they and their distributors are out of supply. I currently have a 30-day supply and then, who knows?”