Friday, February 20, 2015

Shortage of my favorite Hydroxychloroquine, brand name of Plaquenil?

I recently heard about a possible Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) drug shortage, and thought I'd post.

First and foremost, please don't panic. I know that Hydroxycholoroquine is typically a lupus staple, and many of us (and our doctors) don't know what we'd do without the drug. I just wanted to poll the readership to see if any of you have been affected, and whether some areas of the country are having more difficulty than others. I just refilled my 3-month prescription in January, with no trouble. Hopefully, the issue will resolve itself soon!

Feel free to email or comment if you've experienced trouble filling your prescription, and if so, tell us what you and your doctor or pharmacist have done in the meantime. (We're solution-oriented here at Despite Lupus!)

Here's a link to the Lupus Foundation of America's article on the drug shortage, and here's a snippet of the story:

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We have heard reports throughout the country that individuals have been unable to obtain hydroxychloroquine, the generic form of the drug. According to the FDA, a generic drug is identical, or bioequivalent, to a brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, quality, performance characteristics and intended use.

There are also reports that the price of both the generic and brand name forms have increased dramatically. Several manufacturers of hydroxychloroquine have told us that the cause of the shortage is due to an increase in demand...The FDA has not formally added hydroxychloroquine to its list of drug shortages, but the FDA works closely with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and directs individuals to ASHP to receive the most up-to-date information on drug shortages.

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49 comments:

Ruth said...

I have been wondering about this. It used to cost around $6 a month and it spiked to $112 a month. This is distressing to me. Currently I have an HMO with a copay of $7, but I am fearful of what might happen in the future, based on the increasing cost of this drug.

Anonymous said...

I got my last 3-mo prescription but the price had spiked to $100! I need a refill soon and hope everything's ok.

Aymie said...

I know I'm not affected the same way as you guys are being in here UK.
But, mine has changed to a new generic that I've never used before. The last generic worked just as well, but tasted a little different before swallowing it. I'll see how this one goes and report back!
On an aside, does everyone's pred vary too? I'm new to it and have had about 4 different generic brands.
My methotrexate seems to be the same every time though, which is something!

Sara Gorman said...

Thanks for sharing. I hope the price stays put!

Sara Gorman said...

Glad you commented...best of luck with the next refill. My fingers are crossed that prices will return to normal!

Sara Gorman said...

The taste is definitely the way I can tell my pharmacy is using a new pill manufacturer! Thanks for commenting - always interesting to hear about the UK medication system.Personally, I've not noticed a difference in prednisone -- but come to think of it - the taste may vary a bit on that, too. As a general rule, my prednisone pills taste terrible! Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I've been getting generic through my mail order at a cost of $47.00 for a 90 day supply (180 pills).
My recent order was filled with brand, at a cost of $496.00 for the same number of pills. I am returning it, because I did not request brand, nor did they contact me about filling it with brand, but am finding there are shortages of generic in my area as well, Toledo, OH. I've resorted to buying Canadian for a few other drugs and avoiding rip offs by insurance companies. Maybe I'll do it with this one as well.

Sara Gorman said...

What a price hike! Thanks for sharing. Can't vouch for Canadian drug sources, but if your doctors says it's a go, then the savings must be a big relief. Thanks again!

billie said...

Just today my 90 day generic prescription was over $550

billie said...

Just today my 90 day generic prescription was over $550

billie said...

Just today my 90 day generic prescription was over $550

Sara Gorman said...

Oh man - that's a chunk of change! let's hope pricing returns to normal. Thx for sharing!

Lipstick LupusMommy said...

Well, I knew I was getting close to refill time. My doctor just put in the request and I just received the call I was hoping not to get... backorder without a known date. They said my provider could request an alternative... let's see what the cost is with that!

Anonymous said...

I also was quite surprised (annoyed, actually) by the jump in price from one month to the next. Last month, my 30 day supply(thru my insurance) was $10.32. Now is will be $36.88. Fortunately, I have insurance, but what a rip off. From February to March, the full price increased 285%. Drug companies should be ashamed of themselves.

Sara Gorman said...

It's nutty, isn't it? Thanks for sharing - and let's hope the prices return to normal soon. In the meantime, thank goodness for insurance!

Anonymous said...

I just had to pay $74.14 for a month supply, and that is with insurance.

Sara Gorman said...

Thanks for sharing. I assume that's more than normal. I refill in two weeks or so, so we shall see!

Sara Gorman said...

Oh man! I hope the substitute was a cost effective one, and that it's working for you. I'll keep u posted on my refill too! Thx for sharing.

Anonymous said...

My refills last year were $27 and $28 for ah 90-day supply. Now it is up to $566 and that's with insurance. I can't mentally justify this cost. Do I go without or get ripped off due to a "shortage"? What say you, big pharma???

Sara Gorman said...

Oh, that's just entirely too pricey! Let"s hope things resolve soon. Thanks so much for sharing.

Brenda said...

I refilled mine in March 2015 and with my insurance was paying $42.00/month and this time it was $167.00/month, without insurance it is $256.00/month, oh, that's for the generic. Not sure what to do now that it is time to refill. I cant afford $167.00/month. Guess I will have to just hope I don't get sicker.

Sara Gorman said...

I'm sorry you're experiencing the price hike, too! Be sure to talk to your doctor about your options-i'm sure you need that medication! , also - if you have a Costco or target near by, you might make sure their costs are the same. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

my sister just started on this med and when we went to the pharmacy they said it would be around $200. I found a place on line called Good RX. com. We got a card from the Dr.'s office with a member number on it and gave that to the K-Mart pharmacy and got it for $17.26. They have an app for your phone that will also let you get the numbers to give the pharmacy. It does't cost anything to be a member. I don't know who pays for the difference, I just know that some pharmacies will give you a better deal. Please check it out before you buy again. It will give you prices for local pharmacies.

Sara Gorman said...

This is such great information! I have a post ready to go for this week, which includes this tip about GoodRX, which originally came to me from another reader. So glad you guys are in the know!!! Thanks again for this!

Anonymous said...

Just filled my prescription and was shocked at the price. I have been paying $5.75 for a 90 day supply and today it was $86. I spent a long time with the insurance company because I thought it was a mistake, but the customer service rep checked a lot of things and assured me it was correct. My copay is 20%W of the cost and she said the medicine is over $400. After reading all the comments here, I guess I'm lucky it's only $86. I will be talking to my Dr. next week to see if I have any other option s.

Orlando, FL said...

I just went to pick up Rx yesterday and received sticker shock. I last refilled in January and paid $135.00 for 3 month supply. This time they wanted $554.00. I did not accept Rx because I wanted to do some research. I will attempt to get some reduction by using Good Rx codes. This is a generic drug that has been around for many, many years. We should not be paying these ridiculous prices. There is some funny business going on here. I feel so taken advantage of :(

Sara Gorman said...

Let us know if your doctor has any recommendations! Thanks for writing in!

Sara Gorman said...

Try the goodrx for sure - while my costs still sky rocketed, I did save almost $50 with the coupon when I picked my latest prescription. Good luck and thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post!! I was recently laid off and will lose my HMO insurance with set $5 generic copay. (I'm also fairly certain I was laid off due to the lupus, but not sure I can prove it was discriminatory.) COBRA's too expensive, Obamacare options have copays in the $1000s so my best choice is to marry my fiance a little early and join his near-catastrophic plan. I will need to pay out of pocket until I reach deductible.
I was shocked when the pharmacist told me how much old, generic Plaquenil would cost without insurance. She told me there is a discount available, but couldn't figure out what it was since mine was already processed under insurance. I hope they accept the GoodRX discount, which would save me $100. It looks like it isn't on the Walmart/Target/Costco generic plan, so this and the health insurance premiums will eat up 30% or more of my unemployment..
BTW - I did experience an odd delay in my Rx refill a few months back. I thought my pharmacy screwed up - I had no idea there was a national shortage until just doing this research.

Anonymous said...

This just makes me mad. A 1 month supply used to cost me $6. It is now $200+ cash price, $120 with my high deductible plan. I was able to get the last couple months for $30-40 with goodrx, but now that has risen up to $120 a month. This is pure profiteering by the drug companies.

Anonymous said...

I'm so upset about this. Today, my month's supply of the generic hydroxychloroquine, with insurance, cost me $93. When I called my insurance about this huge price jump, they said the pharmaceutical companies have raised the prices. It's gone from around $60 last year, before insurance, to the current $250. It's almost quadrupled!!! I have to have this medication. They are profiting on the backs of desperate people.

Cynthia Delanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I have been taking Plaquenil since I was 27 and I have never paid such a high price, at this rate I may self dose and cut dose in half to make it last longer! For a one month supply, I just paid 212.38 for the generic.This is outrageous and if it was a more common drug, we would be hearing media coverage about it. I said something to my physician about this and they blamed my insurance company for the rate hike.

Sara Gorman said...

Best of luck to you! So crazy that you experienced that delay. Definitely an indication of something brewing, don't you think? Thanks for sharing.

Sara Gorman said...

It's such a DRASTIC hike, it just seems unreal, doesn't it? Hang in there!

Sara Gorman said...

It's a big hike, I agree! I've always been prepared to pay a lot for cellcept, and even for lovenox shots during pregnancy -- but there's just no expectation to pay so much generic plaquenil! Thanks for sharing.

Sara Gorman said...

Oh, don't self dose...not if you can help it! :) hang in there - and be sure to tell your doc that it may be cost prohibitive. If he/she knows that you're contemplating self - dosing, maybe he/she can help reduce your dosage. We definitely want all dosing managed by our medical teams!

Anonymous said...

Last fall in 2014, it cost me $150 for a 90 day supply (before meeting my deductible). I just tried to refill and the pharmacy told me it would be $565! At my last rheumatologist visit two weeks ago, she said she wanted to try taking me off the hydroxychloroquine in the future (since I started an TNF inhibitor). Once I heard the price, I said "How about going off now?" An increase of 370% is ridiculous.

Sara Gorman said...

I hope you and your doctor can figure something out! The increase really is crazy. I hope we see a change for the better soon. Thx for commenting!

Mike said...

I refill every 30 days and with insurance it was around $60. Had been around $6 previously. I sidestepped this by shopping around for alternatives through drug discount card websites. I got it to $20 and had that going for a while. That pharmacy gave up on the deal because they could not afford the hit. I then had to shop around more before I found a $20 deal again. The last two months I got brand name plaquenil for some reason. Now I guess they are getting more of the generic but I have to wait for it to come in (5 days or so). Hopefully no price increase.

Sara Gorman said...

Wow! Those are some impressive savings! I kind of think we are on the downswing, too, as my rx refill was slightly cheaper than last time...and that was without using goodrx! So here's hoping it continues. Thanks for sharing your success with online drug coupons!

Joe G said...

It's still $90+ a month everywhere near me.

Tiffany G. said...

Just reading this makes me nervous... I'm newly diagnosed & just began using the generic in March. I havent noticed a price hike yet here in SC. I'm getting my refills next week, so we shall see. I'll be looking for the same deals as Mike previously posted. Best wishes to all out there and I'll keep you posted on the cost here in the southern state.

Jean Miller said...

Jumped from $27/month last year, to $50/motn beginning of this year, to $196 this month! Shortage, so manufacturers raising prices. Hope goes back to normal, else will need to try something else!

Anonymous said...

My Medicare and Medicaid will no longer pay for even the geniric.my pharmacy told me it was because the price increase.

Anonymous said...

My Medicare and Medicaid will no longer pay for even the geniric.my pharmacy told me it was because the price increase. This is in Pennsylvania

Sara Gorman said...

I'm so sorry to hear it! I just got hit with a second price hike wave. Last time I refilled plaquenil, it was an agreeable $36/month. This time, it was back up to $186 for a month. Ugh!! Hang in there. It has to be over soon!

Anonymous said...

I lost my health insurance thanks to Obama care with all the changes it will take couple of days until insurance kicks in and with cash i am looking ta least $300 for one month supply for generic.

Sara Gorman said...

It's painful, I know! I just found a deal at WalMart, though, for the generic. You might try them again, even if you tried them before. Don't want to send you on a wild goose chase, but they were $100 cheaper than the last time I priced it out. Anything to make the price easier to handle! Thx for sharing.