From March 1 through March 17, U.S. hospitals bought an average of 16,110 units of hydroxychloroquine, compared with an average 8,800 units a month from January 2019 through February 2020, according to Premier Inc., which helps 4,000 member hospitals buy and manage their supplies.
Hydroxychloroquine and its more-toxic cousin chloroquine, which are also commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, haven’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Covid-19. While Trump has touted some reports from doctors outside the U.S. suggesting hydroxychloroquine could be a promising treatment, there have been no large-scale clinical trials to support those claims.
Even so, the expected surge in the number of Covid-19 patients has led health-care systems to try to stock up on potential treatments. With hospitals in regions with high infection rates already stretched, many are trying to assure access to medications as more patients are diagnosed.
Soumi Saha, senior director of advocacy at Premier, said she’s found wholesale distribution channels have been entirely depleted of their hydroxychloroquine supply.