- Rheumatoid Arthritis Slideshow Pictures
- Joint-Friendly Exercises to Reduce RA Pain Slideshow
- Take the RA Quiz
- What is penicillamine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for penicillamine?
- Is penicillamine available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for penicillamine?
- What are the side effects of penicillamine?
- What is the dosage for penicillamine?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with penicillamine?
- Is penicillamine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about penicillamine?
What is penicillamine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Penicillamine is an anti-rheumatic drug used to treat patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. It also is classified as a metal binding (chelating) agent used for treating Wilson's disease, a genetic disease that causes excessive copper to accumulate in the body. The mechanism of action of penicillamine in rheumatoid arthritis is unknown but it may be related to reduction of collagen formation. (Collagen is a type of tissue compound that forms as part of scar tissue that result from inflammation.) Penicillamine also may result in suppression of the immune system. In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, penicillamine appears to slow the progression of the disease (specifically deformities of the joints) and improve function. For this reason it is considered a disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). Penicillamine binds copper, iron, mercury, lead, and cystine which then are excreted in the urine, and this mechanism is important in treating several non-rheumatic diseases including Wilson's disease. The FDA approved penicillamine in December 1970.
What brand names are available for penicillamine?
Is penicillamine available as a generic drug?
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes, in other countries
Do I need a prescription for penicillamine?
What are the side effects of penicillamine?
Common reactions to penicillamine include:
- abdominal pain,
- allergic reactions,
- weight loss,
- dysgeusia (loss of sense of taste),
- lip swelling,
- itching, and
Penicillamine can cause bone marrow suppression (anemia, low blood platelets [thrombocytopenia] and white blood cells [neutropenia]) and serious kidney disease. All patients who take penicillamine require regular blood and urine testing to monitor for these side effects.
Penicillamine can increase the requirement for vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and supplements of pyridoxine are advised. Penicillamine has an unusual risk of inducing immune-related diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, polymyositis, Goodpasture's syndrome, and myasthenia gravis.
Quick GuideLyme Disease Symptoms, Rash, Treatments
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.