In Practice

Access to chloroquine in patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases attending rheumatology outpatient clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic

S D Ntshalintshali, E M Geldenhuys, F Moosajee, W A M Musa, L du Plessis, A Viljoen, D Fortuin, R du Toit

Abstract


Herbal medicines made from the bark of the Cinchona tree, and later quinine, have been widely used for centuries to treat medical conditions such as tropical malaria. More recently, chloroquine (CQ) and its synthetic derivatives have been used as antimalarials and to treat systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and in the past 14 months or so, COVID-19 pneumonia. Anecdotal evidence and the erratic covering through social media of its potential efficacy in the treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia have resulted in the widespread off-label use of CQ in South Africa and worldwide. This study aimed to show that access to CQ as a chronic medication for rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases was limited during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that this resulted in an increased incidence of flares in these patients, affecting their morbidity and potentially leading to mortality.


Authors' affiliations

S D Ntshalintshali, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

E M Geldenhuys, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

F Moosajee, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

W A M Musa, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

L du Plessis, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

A Viljoen, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

D Fortuin, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

R du Toit, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

Full Text

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Keywords

Chloroquine; Autoimmune diseases; COVID-19

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(8):720-723. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i8.15795

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-06-08
Date published: 2021-06-08

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