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Government needs to protect supplies of vital autoimmune disease drug | READER COMMENTARY

Last Sunday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency-use authorization for 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and 1 million doses of chloroquine phosphate. The two drugs commonly used to treat malaria have shown potential as a COVID-19 treatment, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, but more clinical trials are needed to definitively assess their effectiveness.
Last Sunday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency-use authorization for 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and 1 million doses of chloroquine phosphate. The two drugs commonly used to treat malaria have shown potential as a COVID-19 treatment, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, but more clinical trials are needed to definitively assess their effectiveness. (John Phillips // Getty Images)

Ellen Ginsburg Simon’s excellent commentary about the established need of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients to take hydroxychloroquine describes the pain, disfigurement, and disability that accompany these diseases (“Autoimmune disease drug in short supply because of its promise for treating COVID-19,” March 30).

These diseases can cause serious damage to vital organs including the kidneys, brain, heart and lungs. In this time of trying to manage the onslaught of COVID-19, these patients are at particular risk of incurring lung damage in already-damaged lungs. It is necessary to maintain these patients’ access to hydroxychloroquine so they may remain as healthy as possible.

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In addition to the effort of the drug companies to increase their output, the federal government has to assert its powers to direct the flow of the medicine to help not only those with the virus, but also those who have benefited from the medicine long before the viral outbreak.

Frederick Knowles, Chestertown

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