“Rheumatologists are furious about the hype going on over this drug,” said Dr. Michael Lockshin, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. “There is a run on it and we’re getting calls every few minutes, literally, from patients who are trying to stay on the drug and finding it in short supply.”…

Hydroxychloroquine is especially important for people with lupus, which can be life-threatening, Dr. Lockshin said. The drug can lower the risk of dying from lupus and prevent organ damage, and is considered the standard of care. If patients stop taking it after using it regularly for a long time, they can gradually become quite ill. He said it was particularly disturbing to think that people known to benefit from the drug could lose access to it because it is being diverted to a disease for which there is no solid evidence that it actually works.

“If there were justification for everyone taking it, that would be one thing,” Dr. Lockshin said. “It’s not hard to do the studies even in the midst of this crisis. We could have answers in a few weeks. But it’s being prescribed right and left.”