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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

versão On-line ISSN 2078-5135
versão impressa ISSN 0256-9574


NTSHALINTSHALI, S D et al. Access to chloroquine in patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases attending rheumatology outpatient clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2021, vol.111, n.8, pp.720-723. ISSN 2078-5135.

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.

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