Is there is a shortage of tab. hydroxychloroquine (HCQS, Plaquenil). Why? What can you do if you are not able to procure it?


If you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis/ lupus/ other connective tissue diseases; you must be taking a medicine called hydroxychloroquine (HCQS, Zyq, HQ Tor, OXCQ, Plaquenil). Many of you must not be getting it in the pharmacy stores in recent times.

Why is there a shortage of hydroxychloroquine?

Hydroxychloroquine has been approved in treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19) in many countries across the globe. In India, ICMR has approved it as well. Central & state government in India has procured a substantial stock for the government hospitals. There have been instances of general public buying the medicine as well. All this put together has meant shortage & unavailability in local pharmacies.

Is hydroxychloroquine banned?

No. This rumor has been doing the rounds due to the non availability of the medicine. However, be rest assured, it has not been banned.

What can a patient on hydroxychloroquine do?

Speak to your rheumatolgist. He may be able to help you get the medicine with the help of the pharmaceutical company.

In case you are not able to procure it —

  1. Hydroxychloroquine is a long acting medicine & remains in the tissues for a long time. It is detected in urine even 3 months after stopping it. If you miss it for 7-10 days, there should not be a major issue in a majority.
  2. You may take tab. chloroquine phosphate 250 mg instead of hydroxychloroquine 200 mg. Do speak to your rheumatologist about this before changing over.
  3. Do speak to your rheumatologist & see if he wants to increase the dose of other medicines to make up for hydroxychloroquine.

Pharmaceutical companies have increased the production of hydroxychloroquine & the availability issue should be sorted out soon.