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Doctors, Patients Worried About Another Hydroxychloroquine Shortage After President Trump Reveals He's Taking Drug To Fight Coronavirus

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The fallout continues following President Donald Trump's revelation that he's taking hydroxychloroquine to fight the coronavirus, even though it's unproven and might be dangerous. Doctors and concerned patients are worried there will be another run on the drug.

Patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis depend on hydroxychloroquine to control symptoms. The last time the president said the drug could be a game changer fighting COVID-19, there was a rush to get the drug, which led to shortages.

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Patients hope that doesn't happen again.

"I've been living with lupus for over 20 years," Tonyelle Cook Artis said.

Artis is expecting to be back on hydroxychloroquine -- a standard treatment for lupus -- as soon as it's safe for her to see the doctor.

"I'm a little worried, little worried," she said.

She's concerned about another shortage, prompted by the president's revelation that he's taking the drug along with a zinc supplement.

"What do you have to lose?" Trump said Monday.

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After being exposed to staff that tested positive, the president, who has no symptoms of coronavirus and is tested regularly, said he consulted with his White House doctor.

"All I can tell you is, so far, I seem to be OK," Trump said.

The FDA warns against taking hydroxychloroquine outside a hospital and to prevent COVID-19, because it can cause heart rhythm problems.

"At this point, it is not prudent to be taking hydroxychloroquine and zinc," Dr. Michael Lynch said. "The main reason we say that is, there is not good evidence to suggest it prevents or treats coronavirus infection."

Doctors are worried the president is setting a dangerous example, that others will try to follow.

"It is very reckless and dangerous and I was very appalled when I heard that," Artis said.


Artis is the chair of the Philadelphia Lupus Foundation.

"A lot of our lupus patients are relying on this medication. They need this medication to survive," Artis said. "I'm very concerned. I'm concerned for myself and for other lupus warriors out there."

Research is continuing on hydroxychloroquine, both to see if it might be able to treat COVID-19 and also if it could actually prevent the virus, but there's no evidence yet it can do either.

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