COVID-19 and UK Hydroxychloroquine Supply (UPDATE... - LUPUS UK


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COVID-19 and UK Hydroxychloroquine Supply (UPDATED 02/04/2020)


Hi everyone,

We’ve just published updates to our article about the UK Hydroxychlroquine Supply -

From conversations with Blackrock Pharmaceuticals and Zentiva yesterday afternoon it seems that the situation is improving. They informed me that the shortage appeared to be due to an increase in demand earlier in March that the wholesalers weren’t prepared for. Some of the regional depots ran out of stock but they are now redistributing their back-up supplies to solve this problem.

There is guidance in our article now for anyone who hasn’t been able to get their prescription fulfilled.

If you continue to have trouble getting your prescription fulfilled, please let me know.

45 Replies

Thank you Paul, that is really helpful. Your efforts are much appreciated. Fingers crossed we all get our supplies. x

Currently an interview on Sky News with the UK MD of Sanofi Pasteur who is saying that they are ramping up production of the two products which are potentially of interest for clinical trials in Covid 19 to ensure the supplies for existing users is assured as well as there being enough for clinical trials. Hydroxychloroquine was mentioned by name.

Thank you Paul. Good news for people who can only tolerate the Zentiva brand.

Agoodlife in reply to unity3

Is this a generic of Hydroxy?

Thank you Paul_Howard for this update, much appreciated.

Hi Paul, I haven’t been able to get hold of any hydroxychloroquine at all. My local pharmacy told me, they don’t know when they will get it. I’ve tried to call other pharmacy nearby but none of them had it.

HelenL75 in reply to Sezvic

I had the same issue the pharmacist recommended contacting my Rheumatologist or lupus nurse at the hospital which I did and the hospital issued me an urgent prescription - a faff to get someone to collect but I have tablets so might be worth a try?

Boudica1 in reply to HelenL75

My prescriptions for Hydroxychloroquine have always been through the hospital and so far I've not had the problems some others have had via the high street. Good luck and maybe the hospital can keep writing your prescription.


Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to Sezvic

Hi Sezvic,

When did you last try to get your prescription fulfilled? A lot of this action was initiated yesterday afternoon so they may be able to order it now.

Please also have a look at my newest post here -

Sezvic in reply to Paul_Howard

Hi Paul, I’ve managed to get it. I think I had the last box that they had in their stock. My GP allowed me to do my repeated prescription monthly. I’m fine for April now. Thank you Paul. Take care and stay

Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to Sezvic

That's great news. I'm really pleased for you Sezvic. Thank you for letting me know.

Boudica1 in reply to Paul_Howard

Paul Howard is it me or am I right in thinking that those who are having problems with getting their prescription for Hydroxychloroquine mainly those who are being prescribed by their GPs and are therefore using high street chemists?

Mine are prescribed by the hospital and have to be issued by the hospital pharmacy and so far I have never had any problems with getting my Hydroxychloroquine. Plus on this thread one person who was having problems had to go to the hospital to get a prescription and then no problem with getting it filled with the hospital pharmacy.

Sorry if this is just Idol curiousity.

I have had issues on and off for a few years getting the Zentiva brand. My local pharmacy normally orders them in for me but I have to get my doctor to word the prescription for that specific brand. Some time back the supplier ran out of stock and had to wait till stock was available and last year they had a distribution issue with pharmacies trying to order but unable to order it. I tried my hospital pharmacy but they couldn't get it either. I then managed to get it from Boots who ordered it for the next day. I can't take the other brands. I have enough at the moment but am expecting a challenge when I need my next prescription.

My doctor writes on my prescription

Hydroxychloroquine 200mg tablets

2 daily as directed by specialist

Addl info: Pharmacy info:

Zentiva brand only

So pharmacy can supply that brand which appears to cost more hence why they would generally supply the cheaper version

Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to Boudica1

Hi Boudica1,

Unfortunately not. I've been in contact with a number of Lupus Specialist Nurses and Consultants whose hospital pharmacies were also out of stock and unable to order it from suppliers. As my update to the guidance mentions, this short-term situation is hopefully resolved now. It seemed to be partially regional depending on the available stock in the nearest depot.

Thank you Paul. Emailed my MP twice but the auto answer says he doesn’t give priority to emails and, if he possibly can, will answer in 20 days. 🤷‍♀️

Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to Lupiknits

Hi Lupiknits,

Thank you for emailing them - it is a shame they are not very responsive.

I haven’t received any emails from Matt Hancock or my Local MP and I sent last Thursday morning.

happytulip in reply to Lupiknits

Wow, they are paid enough to respond faster than that!!

Lupiknits in reply to happytulip


Nadwana in reply to Lupiknits

Can someone buy hydroxychloroquine without a prescription here in the UK?

Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to Nadwana

Hi Nadwana. No, hydroxychloroquine is only available on prescription in the UK.

Nadwana in reply to Paul_Howard

Thanks Paul

Thank you Paul. That is reassuring. With regard to Zentiva (which I can tolerate), the last time we collected my prescription from the small branch of Boots that manages to get it for me, they said that they could only continue to supply that particular brand if my doctor typed the Zentiva name on the first line alongside Hydroxychloroquine (something to do with head office not being able to claim the higher cost from the NHS if it was not written this way...)

I asked my doctor to amend but their computer system cannot accommodate this. As I found it difficult to find a chemist who was prepared to try different wholesale contacts in the first place to source it, I am at a loss as to how to obtain this particular brand moving forward.

Have you heard of this happening at all? ...if any one can shed light on this change of policy at Boots and any way of resolving it I'd be very grateful before I run out.

Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to Foxglove46

Hi Foxglove46,

I have heard of this happening - have you spoken to me about it before or was it someone else?

I don't really understand the problem. If the prescription clearly states that a particular brand or version is needed then the pharmacy should be able to get reimbursed for the full amount by the NHS. There is nothing in the MHRA guidance stating where this needs to be on the prescription that I've seen.

It might be helpful if your pharmacist could provide, in writing, an outline of the problem and where the source of it is.

Thank you for your reply, Paul....I have not contacted you before so maybe there are a few of us out there. It is helpful to hear about the guidance....this corresponds with the puzzled reaction of my doctor.... so I will definitely go back to them with more confidence to question it. In the 18 months I have been on Zentiva, they have never raised this before so I will look into it further. Much appreciated....

I have emailed you many times over the last few years on this issue as Zentiva is the only brand I can tolerate. My Doctor now words my prescription so the pharmacy will give me that brand. But it isn't always available. Last year they said it was a distribution issue and when I did get some it was in new packaging so not sure if that affected it through distribution system. I am hoping it will be available when my prescription is due. They said they won't issue repeat prescriptions early as the demand for all medicines is great at the moment

Pharmacies in N Ireland telling me even if doctor did write brand on prescription it wouldn’t make any difference-it depends what brand of Hydroxychloroquine is in their warehouse at the time. And that could change to a different brand the next time! I’ve been lucky-after side effects from Bristol make a small chemist got me a month of Blackrock by chance. This month by chance it was Zentiva. I suppose we are just going to have to be grateful that we can get any Hydroxy at all

Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to Marmorange

Hi Marmorange,

I'm afraid your pharmacy is giving you incorrect information. If the prescriptions states a specific brand or version then it would be a dispensing error for them to issue you with another type unless you had given permission. A dispensing error like this could be reported.

It is their responsibility to try and source the version you need or tell you that they are unable to order it and advise you to try a different pharmacy.

The pharmacist was very helpful and phoned around the warehouses he orders from but if they dont have it he can’t get it. Maybe things are improving and this was just a blip in March as you mentioned in a previous post.Thanks

That’s very helpful to know Paul. Thanks.

Thanks for all your hard work, Paul. It's so much appreciated. X

I got my repeat with no problem

Paul, can I please check that this issue is now definitely resolved? I had a reply from my MP yesterday asking permission to share my email, so that he can raise the issue with the government. I just wanted to know how to respond, whether I should just thank him and say the issue has been resolved or if there is still a need to let the government know?

Many thanks.

Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to BookishVibes

Hi BookishVibes,

The temporary supply issue in the UK appears to have been resolved in the short-term. However, we are still concerned that, if hydroxychloroquine proves to be effective in treating COVID-19, it will have a significant impact on available supplies and result in people with lupus not having access to their essential medication. We are therefore seeking reassurances from the government that a stable supply will be ensured for people with lupus throughout the pandemic.

Thanks, Paul. I've replied today and had a response back to say the issue has been raised with the department of health and social care and they will be in touch with any responses they get from them. Fingers crossed!

Hi, I am having problems getting my prescription for Hydroxychloroquine. I have Zentiva, and it states this brand on my prescription from my doctor. My local Boots branch is unable to get it from any of their suppliers, I also rang round other pharmacies, with no luck. I have now had to accept the Quinoric brand rather than none, but do not tolerate this brand at all well. Thankyou for your continued support., during this difficult time.

Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to Pinky1go

Hi Pinky1go,

I'm sorry to hear that you had to accept the Quinoric version. Zentiva does have stock and they are supplying the some of the main wholesalers weekly. I'm sorry that they didn't have any when you were collecting your prescription. It may be worth seeing whether you can get your prescription a week early next time so that your pharmacy can try over a few days to obtain it for you. They might find it useful to speak to Zentiva Customer Services to find out when the suppliers are having orders fulfilled - 0844 8793 188

Hi, I had waited 2 to 3 weeks before accepting the Quinoric brand. But thankyou I will ask them to call the customer service.

Can you help me with another problem please? I used to get an e mail every day from healthunlocked. But I don't get any updates anymore, and did not receive one for your reply. I have looked at my settings and it still says daily. They are not going into spam either. I don't know what I can do about it. Thankyou.

Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to Pinky1go

I'd definitely recommend that you ask your pharmacist to call Zentiva Customer Services next time.

I'm not sure what to suggest if your email settings are still indicating daily notifications. It may be worth getting in touch with HealthUnlocked directly. You can email them at

Pinky1go in reply to Paul_Howard

Will do bother of these things. Thankyou

Pinky1go in reply to Paul_Howard

Hi, I asked my boots chemist to contact Zentiva customer service as you suggested, eventually they agreed. They said Zentiva would have supplies 27th May, so I said I would request my prescription from the doctor and that it should work out ok. She said they had given her a number to include on the order. I've just collected my prescription to find they have given me Quinoric again. I queried this, to be told it's all they can get. I tried to explain about the phone call etc. which was done by someone who is not usually at this branch. All they kept saying is, this is all they can get. By this time I was near to tears. I know it is a difficult time for everyone, but I don't understand that people are saying they are getting the Zentiva brand ok, yet I can't get it. Please can you advice me?

Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to Pinky1go

Hi Pinky1go,

I'm sorry to hear you are having so much trouble. Are you able to try another pharmacy in your area? Beyond your pharmacist communicating with Zentiva customer services and the suppliers to locate some of this version for you, I'm struggling for what else I can recommend.

I just heard on a sky news report that an outcome of a study of Hydroxychloroquine use with Covid 19 patients was that it is not recommended due to increase risk of heart failure.

Paul_HowardAdministrator in reply to Poppyfields65

I also read about that. It is still a relatively small trial compared the ones being carried out globally now. We should know soon enough.

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