MONTREAL – Chloroquine, the suddenly controversial drug used to treat COVID-19, has been prescribed for years by people with arthritis. However, the latter will have to deprive themselves of it during the coronavirus crisis.
Because, fearing a shortage, the National Institute of Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESSS) has ruled in recent days that prescriptions for chloroquine and its derivative, hydroxychloroquine, can no longer be renewed, except exception.
Ken Monteith, who has been taking hydroxychloroquine to treat rheumatism for a long time, is concerned.
“I’m taking another anti-inflammatory, but if it’s not enough to fill it, I’m going to have a problem. I’m going to be in pain, ”he feared.
Ken Monteith was in the process of completing his online medication renewal on Sunday when he learned that he could probably not get another dose of hydroxychloroquine for months.
To be entitled to the exception provided by the INESSS opinion, people suffering from arthritis must return to see their doctor, even if their prescription is still valid. They are then forced to demonstrate that this treatment is essential for them.
“Unfortunately, my rheumatologist closed his office for security reasons because of the coronavirus,” said Ken Monteith, taken aback.
Contacted by the QMI Agency, the INESSS defended its collective order.
“This medication takes a long time to be eliminated. So a temporary stop should have no effect on people’s health, “said Olivia Jacques, spokesperson for the public institute.
INESSS, the Quebec drug authority, says it came to this decision because inventories of chloroquine and its derivative are said to be too limited to deal with an explosion in COVID-19 cases.
However, the same institute said Sunday by statement that chloroquine should not be used in a generalized way to treat COVID-19, except for rare cases.
A controversial drug
Described by Donald Trump as “a gift from heaven” to fight the pandemic, chloroquine in fact continues to divide the scientific community.
On the one hand, the French microbiologist Didier Raoult claims to have obtained very convincing results by administering this treatment to people with coronavirus. On the other, studies contradict or qualify these words, at least.
Throughout all of this controversy, chloroquine has become the subject of all kinds of conspiracy theories on social media.