Distributors hike prices of front-running COVID-19 drug as demand spikes

As global demand spikes for hydroxychloroquine — the drug touted by the president as a "game changer" in combating COVID-19 — a distributor that supplies the key ingredient of the drug hiked its prices about 350 percent in the last week, STAT reported. 

Spectrum Chemical, which sells hydroxychloroquine sulfate to compounding pharmacies that make hydroxychloroquine pills, raised the wholesale price of a 100-gram container of the ingredient by about 350 percent to $1,160, and the price for a 1,000-gram container 230 percent, to $5,932, according to STAT

A spokesperson for Spectrum Chemical told STAT the spike in demand for the drug has made it hard to obtain the active ingredient and that its suppliers have been shipping partially filled orders or canceling orders outright. 

As regular pharmacies run out of hydroxychloroquine, compounding pharmacies  — those that make custom drugs — may become the go-to source of hydroxychloroquine for patients who need it to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, according to STAT

But if distributors of the active ingredient raise prices, compounding pharmacies may have to pass those costs down to consumers, raising the price and limiting patient access to hydroxychloroquine. 

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