WINNIPEG -- A shortage of Hydroxychloroquine – a drug used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus – has been reported on the Drug Shortages Canada website due to an increase in demand.

The reason – some people are under the impression the drug can protect you from covid-19.

For people living with Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus, the drug can be what gets you through the day.

“It helps to alleviate the symptoms so that you can get back to your daily activities with some limitations,” said Darlene McPherson who has lived with Rheumatoid Arthritis for 30 years.

She said she used to take Hydroxychloroquine daily just to function. Without it, she said the arthritis would become unbearable.

“You have severe swelling in all of the joints.” Said McPherson. “From your neck all the way down to your toes. It’s excruciating.”

A statement from the Province’s Health Regulators said:

“There has been a significant increase in the number of prescriptions written and dispensed for some drugs associated with media and internet claims over the past two weeks in Manitoba.”

“We are now faced with a serious shortage.”

The Arthritis Society said Hydroxychloroquine is in a testing phase, it’s not a drug people should be getting prescribed to battle covid-19.

“It’s really the responsibility of healthcare providers to make sure that people are getting the appropriate prescriptions for their conditions,” said Dr. Sian Bevan, Chief Science Officer at the Arthritis Society.

She said it’s critical that people living with Arthritis have access to this drug.

The Canadian Lupus Research Network said it’s getting calls from patients in Manitoba who can’t get refills for Hydroxychloroquine.

“We need to make sure that people who are well, who have minimal symptoms, and who are at home, aren’t stock piling this drug,” said Christine Peschken, Chair for the Canadian Lupus Research Network.

“That includes physicians who are inappropriately prescribing it or stockpiling it. We have to reserve some supply for patients who need it.”

Patients like McPherson – “People like me, people who have lupus which is an extremely devastating disease depend on it.”