Shortages of rheumatoid arthritis drugs hit Europe after demand surges for treating covidBMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2384 (Published 28 September 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2384
- Gareth Iacobucci
- The BMJ
European countries are reporting worsening shortages of anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat arthritis, vasculitis, and other inflammatory rheumatoid and musculoskeletal diseases because they are being repurposed to treat covid-19.
Many such anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drugs, including glucocorticoids such as dexamethasone and tocilizumab, a humanised monoclonal antibody, have been used to treat patients with severe covid during the pandemic.
The European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) has received reports that the surge in use has led to shortfalls of tocilizumab in several countries, including Germany, Portugal, Belgium, and Scandinavian countries.1 Other European countries, including the UK and France, said they were aware of recent concerns about tocilizumab supplies but had not reported actual shortages as yet.