As someone who has been sick for over half of their life, I know ridiculously long medicine names off by heart.
These are words that even some doctors struggle to pronounce.
That’s why I knew that something wasn’t right when I heard Hydroxychloroquine roll off the President of the United States’ often incoherent tongue.
I knew it meant only one thing: he was going to be touting the medicine I require to get by as a coronavirus curing miracle drug.
While there are studies into whether it works to prevent coronavirus, there is currently no concrete medical or scientific evidence that it does. Despite this, Donald Trump told press at the White House that he had been taking the drug for a week.
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I, on the other hand, felt frustrated and panicked. Trump has a colossal dedicated band of followers both in the US and UK who will jump to follow their leader, thus buying up all the supplies.
This isn’t an irrational fear. A study found that online demand for Hydroxychloroquine surged by 1349 per cent when Trump first endorsed the drug in April. It’s bound to become even more popular now that he’s actually taking it.
I’m terrified that the scarcity will make the pharmaceutical price rocket up and those who rely on it to live will suffer.
Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug that is used to control autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and lupus.
I have been taking it since I was diagnosed with the latter in 2005. In the long term it decreases the number of flares I have in which my immune system attacks itself, makes me less light and photosensitive.
It also protects me against blood clots and organ damage. In day to day terms it eases the swelling of my joints, stops skin rashes, and helps me to feel less fatigued.
Trump said he felt perfectly fine after taking the drug, but he neglected to mention the whole range of side effects that those on Hydroxychloroquine can experience
So this offhand comment from Trump makes me very worried about being able to get my prescription in the next few months. My condition is only as good as it is because of the medication I take, if that is interrupted I could relapse.
As it’s impossible to attend hospital appointments at the moment, I brought up my concerns with my musculoskeletal specialist during our last phone consultation.
She tried to assure me that lupus patients and others who use it to treat their illnesses will still be a priority, but she also admitted how uncertain the future was. This did not leave me feeling very reassured.
I’m not just worried for myself. Trump said he felt OK after taking the drug, but he neglected to mention the whole range of side effects that those on Hydroxychloroquine can experience.
The minor side effects include dizziness and mild diarrhoea but on the extreme end it can cause seizures. It also interacts and possibly interferes with lots of other medications such as common birth control, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories, which is why you should always discuss taking new medications with a doctor.
Because of all of these side effects, patients can be prescribed a whole host of other medications to counteract them. I take three other pills alongside Hydroxychloroquine as it gives me bad migraines and digestive issues. But obviously someone buying it online won’t know this.
If it was found that the drug could prevent or treat that would be both a blessing and a curse. To have a cure or effective treatment would be incredible, but I know that it would bring with it constant worry about accessing my life saving medicine from month to month.
So far, the Lancet has found there are no benefits to giving the drug to those with coronavirus as a treatment. In fact, those who did take it as part of the study were more likely to die of Covid-19 than those who didn’t. We’re yet to see whether it works in a preventative capacity.
But even if it proves ineffective, my worry is that Trump’s die-hard fans will believe him over science, which wouldn’t be too much of a stretch considering the response to the president’s bleach comments.
Until we know for sure what Hydroxychloroquine’s role in fighting coronavirus is, I’d urge people to please not panic buy it. You could be taking it away from someone who depends on it to live.
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