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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 169-178

Prescription practices, experiences, and perspectives on the usage of hydroxychloroquine among rheumatologists and other specialists

1 Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Emergency Medicine, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 MBBS Student, Medical College, The Aga Khan University, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
4 Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, JIPMER, Puducherry, India
5 Department of Medicine, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India
6 Department of Surgical Gastroenetrology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
7 Department of Medicine, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Latika Gupta
Department of Clinical Immunology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow - 226 014, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/injr.injr_319_20

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Background/Objectives: The use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for COVID-19 has raised concerns for adverse effects. We aimed to understand the practice, perceptions, and experience of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) with HCQ use for COVID-19 and other indications. Methods: A validated e-survey with 30 questions was circulated among rheumatologists and other specialists using SurveyMonkey. Responses from rheumatologists were compared with other doctors (odds ratio [OR], median, interquartile range), and ADRs encountered based on their indications. Results: Among 410 respondents (71.2% rheumatologists, 27% academicians) with a lifetime experience of 17886 (4884–52074) patients over 12 (7–20) years, and 148 (48–349) prescription of HCQ per month, one-third (135) were managing COVID-19 with 10 (0–60) prescriptions per physician. Electrocardiograms were seldom ordered preprescription (5%), but visual scans were requested by one-thirds, especially by rheumatologists (OR-1.9). Agreement on the safety of HCQ for non-COVID indications was nearly unanimous (99%), but only two-third (64%) perceived it to be safe for COVID-19, with most (72%) being uncomfortable using HCQ with macrolides. ADRs were most often encountered after middle-age with skin pigmentation (554 [123–2063]) being the most frequent, followed by gastrointestinal intolerance (222 [42–980] per million prescriptions). Cardiac toxicity was rarely reported. ADRs other than cutaneous and visual were noted more frequently by nonrheumatologists. Rheumatologists were less likely to consider HCQ unsafe (OR-0.04) and reportedly faced a greater challenge in drug procurance (OR-2.6) during the pandemic. Conclusions: Most ADRs are rare with HCQ use in our respondent population with a large user experience. HCQ use was considered unsafe by one-thirds in the setting of COVID-19 but not outside it, lesser so by rheumatologists.

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