The hydroxychloroquine-joint pain connection

There is little doubt that the year's most widely discussed medication is hydroxychloroquine, which was cited by President Trump and by "America's Frontline Doctors" as a cure for COVID-19.

In one video, an America's Frontline Doctors physician says, "The virus has a cure. It's called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax."

So who are these doctors and what is the hydroxychloroquine-joint pain connection?

America's Frontline Doctors is a slight name variation of a partner organization of the American Academy of Family Physicians known as "America's Frontline Physicians." In early August, the Physicians group mounted a campaign to distance themselves from America's Frontline Doctors and to remind the public that there is no scientific evidence that hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with other medications, is a cure or preventive for COVID-19.

So what does it help? Hydroxychloroquine has been mentioned most often as a preventive of, or treatment for, malaria. In 1956, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved hydroxychloroquine for symptoms of lupus. One of the more common symptoms of lupus is severe joint pain.

The hydroxychloroquine treatment misinformation is concerning, however, the publicity is has had a dire effect: Some physicians are reporting an inability to provide hydroxychloroquine for their lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients due to a shortage.

In a statement appearing in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance, a consortium of rheumatologists, warned that "... shortages of hydroxychloroquine could be detrimental for people living with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus."

The shortage is not a small matter. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, approximately 1.5 million Americans suffer from some form of lupus. Worldwide, that estimate is 5 million.

If you suffer from chronic joint pain, there are alternative medications that may provide relief, or you can try any of a number of non-pharmaceutical options.

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