In Valdez’s case, Plaquenil was not enough. She takes the steroid prednisone every day, as well as CellCept, an immunosuppressant drug that reduces rejection in transplant recipients and others, in addition to a weekly injection of Benlysta, which reduces her lymphocytes, the part of white blood cells that fight the immune system.
What happens if she runs out? “I am likely going to go into a flare or I am going to have to increase other, more dangerous medicines to keep me out of a flare. I take a bunch of medicines to keep my immune system from working so it doesn’t harm me. If I have to replace it [Plaquenil] by increasing my CellCept, which is a more powerful immune suppressant, I am basically putting myself at a higher risk. I am basically increasing my risk of having very serious complications of coronavirus. I already have that risk.
“When I think about the other people out there with lupus and other autoimmune disorders, we’re all really scared right now. I haven’t left my house in nine days. I’m working completely remotely. If I get coronavirus, unlike someone else my age, almost 50 years old, who is likely to recover and will be fine, I will likely end up in the ICU.”