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A 14-year-old in Arizona was denied arthritis medication because the drug can also be used to end an ectopic pregnancy at higher doses. Photo by Marcelo Leal via Unsplash.

A 14-year-old Arizona girl has been denied a low-dose “lifesaving” medication she’s been taking to treat debilitating symptoms of her arthritis, her doctor said.

The refusal came recently after the judge restored an almost complete ban on abortions stemming from the 1864 law in Arizona’s first year as a US territory, the New Republic reports.

The drug, methotrexate, slows the most severe symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis in teenagers, which can cause critical complications in children who can damage the joints and prevent growthNewsweek reports.

In higher doses, methotrexate can be used to terminate an ectopic pregnancy, the agency said. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, where the egg cannot survive and can cause serious complications, such as life-threatening blood loss, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The teenager’s doctor wrote on Twitter on September 26 that the pharmacist did not inform her of the patient’s need for the medication for fear that it would be used for an abortion due to age and sex.

“Welcome to AZ. The pharmacist refused my teenage patient a refill of MTX today,” wrote Dr. Deborah Jane Power. She explained that her patient was taking a low dose of 5 milligrams to treat the more debilitating symptoms of the patient’s condition, and without it, her condition would likely have worsened. “MTX refused solely because she is a woman, barely a teenager. Lydia!”

Power said she reported the denial to the state board of pharmacy and her patient was able to get the medication the next day. But now she’s worried about the patient’s ability to get the medication on an ongoing basis, even though she’s been taking it for years.

“It took a lot of work to take care of this baby to get her home the pain is completely manageable, she can attend school in person,” Power told KOLD. The patient’s condition did not allow her to go to the hospital, but this year she was able to go to high school for the first time, the newspaper reports.

“She’s not in a wheelchair, she has a social life and friends for the first time, a life that all young people should have,” the girl’s mom told KOLD. She says they waited an agonizing 24 hours between when they were denied and when they got approval to refill the prescription, according to the agency.

“I was scared, I was really scared,” she told KOLD. “I think if they deny it, then we’re going to have to find another drug, and we don’t know if it’s going to work.”

Walgreens did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

He sent KOLD a statement saying he is focused on meeting the needs of his patients “in accordance with current pharmacy laws and regulations” and noted that states with trigger laws make it difficult to dispense “certain prescriptions.” which applies to “all pharmacies including Walgreens.”

American College of Rheumatology released guiding principles for policymakers on access to methotrexate, warning that there is a “lack of clarity” about whether patients will be able to access their medication “if prescribers and pharmacists interpret the US Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, including limiting access to potentially abortifacient drugs. »

The guidelines explain that the drug is “one of the most widely used and inexpensive drugs” for many types of “inflammatory rheumatic diseases,” including juvenile arthritis.

“It improves disease activity, prevents organ damage, reduces disability, and can extend the life expectancy of people with these diseases,” the guidelines state. “At much higher doses than prescribed for people with rheumatic diseases, it can be used to medically terminate ectopic pregnancy.”

The guidelines emphasize that methotrexate remains the standard of care “for a variety of autoimmune diseases” and “should remain available for people with rheumatic diseases.”

Brooke (she/they) is a real-time reporter for McClatchy covering LGBTQ+ and Western news. They studied journalism at the University of Florida and previously covered LGBTQ+ news for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. When they are not writing stories, they enjoy spending time with their cats, horseback riding, or spending time outdoors.

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