The Zentiva version of hydroxychloroquine is currently out of stock, and it is unclear how long this may last. Zentiva are working with suppliers to reserve stock for people who are specifically prescribed their brand of tablets.
What is hydroxychloroquine and why do different versions matter?
Hydroxychloroquine is generally the first line of treatment for someone who has been diagnosed with lupus. It is used for skin and joint involvement, muscle inflammation, fever, fatigue, pleurisy, to reduce the development of renal (kidney) disease and chronic damage, and for its steroid-sparing properties. It is one of the few licensed drugs for lupus and there is good evidence for its efficacy and safety.
There are a few different versions of hydroxychloroquine available in the UK – every version includes the same amount of the active ingredient hydroxychloroquine, but may have different ‘fillers’, which are inactive substances used to make the tablet bigger or easier to process. There isn’t one particular manufacturer’s version which is ‘best’, as all people with lupus may react to medications to differently, so it’s important to find a version that suits you.
You can find more information about hydroxychloroquine and the range of manufacturer versions in our article HERE.
What is happening with Zentiva hydroxychloroquine tablets?
Zentiva are having some supply issues with the active ingredient in their tablets, and they are now out of stock. They are not sure what the reason for this is, so have been unable to give an estimate of how long it may last. They expect to have a limited supply in a few weeks (as of the beginning of May) and are also working with suppliers to reserve stock for people (with any diagnosis) who are specifically prescribed the Zentiva brand of hydroxychloroquine.
Some people with lupus have also been reporting that the system their pharmacy uses for ordering medicines (sometimes called a “POD” system) meant they could no longer order specific versions of hydroxychloroquine, even if they were specified on the prescription.
What do I do if my pharmacist says they cannot get me Zentiva?
There are a few different options depending on what the reason is:
- If your pharmacist says the POD system does not allow them to order specific versions:
Your pharmacist should still be able to order a specific version if your prescription states that this is the version you need.
If your pharmacy uses Alliance as their supplier they can do this through “Alliance Specials” and by ensuring they use the PIP code which is specific to Zentiva Hydroxychloroquine (1201730). Boots are now also using an older code to specifically order Zentiva from Alliance when there is stock, and this change should have been communicated to all Boots pharmacists. Other suppliers may have similar mechanisms for ordering specific versions. They can also contact Zentiva directly on 08448 793188 or at UKcustomerservices@zentiva.com.
- If your pharmacist says they are out of stock:
You could try taking your prescription to a different pharmacy if you have access to one. Different pharmacies use different suppliers, so one may be able to obtain a particular medicine where another cannot. Independent pharmacies can occasionally source medicines more easily as they are usually not tied to using just one specific supplier.
Boots Pharmacy currently have a temporary arrangement with their supplier and Zentiva to access available stock. If you have a prescription specifically for Zentiva, you can take your prescription to Boots and you should receive Zentiva if it is available. However it is important to note that supplies are limited and may run out quickly.
- If you are still unable to obtain any Zentiva:
You could try the Blackrock version of hydroxychloroquine, as it has a very similar formulation to Zentiva so you may tolerate it. The 200mg Blackrock tablets are out of stock until late May / early June 2023, but the 300mg Blackrock tablets are in stock. You can find more information in this article on Blackrock hydroxychloroquine.
If you are unable to tolerate any other brands, then we would recommend speaking to your rheumatologist or prescribing clinician about what may be the best option for you until Zentiva comes back into stock.
If you need a specific formulation of hydroxychloroquine, such as Blackrock or Zentiva, you can ask for your prescriber to specifically state this on the prescription (i.e. “hydroxychloroquine sulfate 200mg – Blackrock or Zentiva version only” rather than simply “hydroxychloroquine sulfate 200mg”). This may help you to obtain the specific version you need. More information about this can be found in our article on hydroxychloroquine prescriptions HERE.
We will keep you updated on the availability of Zentiva’s hydroxychloroquine tablets on our website and on social media.