A new study notes that prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine surged nearly 2,000 percent the week in March that President Trump first touted it as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, notes that during the week of March 15 to March 21, there were 45,858 prescriptions filled for less than 28 tablets of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, an increase of 1,977 percent compared to 2019.
«The growth observed in the week of March 15 to March 21 followed the World Health Organization declaring a global pandemic on March 11, the United States declaring a national emergency on March 13, a single-group nonrandomized study published on March 17, and President Trump’s support of the drug on March 19,» the researchers wrote in the study.
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There was also a rise in prescriptions of hydroxychloroquine for 28-60 days and 61-plus days, with the numbers rising 179 percent and 182 percent, respectively.
The researchers noted the «surge» in short-term prescriptions coincided with a reduction in longer-term prescriptions for the anti-malarial drugs, which are also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis at the end of the study.
«At study end, these increases remained sustained for fewer than 28 tablet fills (+848.4 [percent]) and 28 to 60 tablet fills (+53.3 [percent]), while more than 60 tablet fills of hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine were below 2019 estimates (−64.0 [percent] decrease),» the researchers added.
In total, the researchers found that 483,425 excess prescriptions of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were filled between Feb. 16 and April 25.
The experts, who come from a number of different organizations, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and GoodRx, used pharmacy data from 58,332 pharmacies across all 50 states and more than 14,000 zip codes, to come up with their findings.
Rick Bates, founder and CEO of prescription savings service SingleCare, said the service has seen a similar spike in demand for hydroxychloroquine fills, both in March and when Trump mentioned earlier this month that he was taking hydroxychloroquine.
«There’s clearly a tie between the president’s opinion on COVID treatments and consumer demand for certain medications,» Bates told Fox News via email. «It’s an unprecedented time where news and studies about effective treatments for COVID are changing daily, so, Americans are searching for facts and are eager for information, whether it’s from scientific studies, physicians or the White House.»
In March, President Trump said, «I feel good about it [hydroxycholoroquine],» adding it was «just a feeling,» despite no evidence at the time the anti-malarial drug was effective in being used to treat the novel coronavirus.
The spike in hydroxychloroquine prescriptions indicates both the general population’s search for a cure for the pandemic and the reach of the president’s words.