Since hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) was mentioned as a possible treatment for COVID-19, ACR members have expressed concern and frustration about their patients’ access to this critical treatment. Specifically, members and patients have experienced issues with prescription restrictions, prior authorization requirements and patient concerns about cardiac side effects. The ACR has been in constant communication with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and private insurers to address these issues and has released guidance documents to assist members during this public health emergency (PHE), including the following:
- ACR Guiding Principles for Hydroxychloroquine Scarce Resource Allocation During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Advice for Talking to Patients About Shortages of Hydroxychloroquine During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In response to its constant communication with the FDA, the ACR and its leadership had the opportunity to speak with FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, to discuss provider experiences with HCQ during the PHE. Members of the ACR’s leadership discussed difficulties in obtaining HCQ for patients at the onset of the PHE as well as subsequent concerns about cardiac concerns related to HCQ. The FDA noted that it is working with manufacturers to ensure adequate supply for patients. Agency staff expressed interest in working with the ACR as they continue to discuss tools and guidance on concerns about cardiac side effects of HCQ.
ACR staff will continue to work with the FDA and private insurance companies to ensure that rheumatology patients can access HCQ. The ACR’s Insurance Subcommittee (ISC) of the Committee on Rheumatologic Care is ready and willing to help members who are experiencing access or administrative burden issues related to HCQ. The ISC’s recent advocacy on this issue has led to changes in payer prior authorization processes, making it easier for rheumatology patients to access this critical medication. For questions or assistance with a specific payer policy, contact [email protected].
Access resources can be found on the ACR website.