- Rheumatoid Arthritis Slideshow Pictures
- Take the RA Quiz
- Joint-Friendly Exercises to Reduce RA Pain Slideshow
- What is hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?
- Is hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?
- What are the side effects of hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?
- What is the dosage for hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?
- Is hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?
What is hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Hydroxychloroquine is classified as an anti-malarial drug. It is similar to chloroquine (Aralen) and is useful in treating several forms of malaria as well as lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. Its mechanism of action is unknown. Malarial parasites invade human red blood cells. Hydroxychloroquine may prevent malarial parasites from breaking down (metabolizing) hemoglobin in human red blood cells. Hydroxychloroquine is effective against the malarial parasites Plasmodium vivax, P. malariae, P. ovale, and susceptible strains of P. falciparum. Hydroxychloroquine prevents inflammation caused by lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. The FDA approved hydroxychloroquine in April, 1955.
What are the side effects of hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?
Side effects include irritability, headache, weakness, hair lightening or loss, stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, muscle pain, rash and itching. Rarely, hydroxychloroquine can affect the bone marrow leading to reduced white blood cells (leukopenia) or platelets (thrombocytopenia) and abnormal red blood cells (anemia). Rare but potentially serious eye toxicity can occur. This toxicity affects a part of the eye called the retina and can lead to color blindness and even loss of vision. An ophthalmologist (eye specialist) often can detect changes in the retina that suggest toxicity before serious damage occurs. Therefore, regular eye examinations, even when there are no symptoms, are mandatory. Patients who are genetically deficient in a certain enzyme, called G6PD, can develop a severe anemia resulting from the rupture of red blood cells. This enzyme deficiency is more common in persons of African descent and can be evaluated by blood testing. Hydroxychloroquine may worsen psoriasis.
What is the dosage for hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?
The usual adult dose for treating malaria is 800 mg initially, followed by 400 mg 6-8 hours later and then 400 mg at 24 hours and 48 hours. The dose for malaria prevention is 400 mg every week starting 1 or 2 weeks before exposure and for 4 weeks after leaving the high risk area.
The recommended adult dose for rheumatoid arthritis is 400-600 mg daily for 4-12 weeks followed by 200-400 mg daily.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is treated with 400 mg once or twice daily for several weeks then 200-400 mg daily. Hydroxychloroquine should be taken with food or milk in order to reduce stomach upset.
Latest Arthritis News
Which drugs or supplements interact with hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?
Administration of hydroxychloroquine with penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen) may increase penicillamine levels, increasing the risk of penicillamine side effects. The mechanism is unknown. Combining telbivudine (Tyzeka) and hydroxychloroquine may increase the risk of unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness because both drugs cause such side effects.
Hydroxychloroquine suppresses the immune system and should not be combined with drugs that also suppress the immune system or live vaccines.
Is hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Hydroxychloroquine should only be used in pregnant women for malaria prophylaxis or treatment.
Hydroxychloroquine may be secreted in breast milk and may cause side effects in the infant.
What else should I know about hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?
What preparations of hydroxychloroquine are available?
Tablet: 200 mg.
How should I keep hydroxychloroquine stored?
Hydroxychloroquine should be stored at room temperature up to 30 C (86 F) in a sealed, light resistant container.
Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is a drug that is classified as an anti-malarial drug. Plaquenil is prescribed for the treatment or prevention of malaria. It is also prescribed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and the side effects of lupus such as hair loss, joint pain, and more. Side effects, drug interactions, pregnancy safety information, and dosage information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms & Treatment
What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Learn about juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Discover rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms,...
Picture of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 1
A chronic inflammatory condition caused by an autoimmune disease. See a picture of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and learn...
Picture of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 2
Erythematous, edematous plaques appear in a "butterfly" distribution on the face. See a picture of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus...
Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms, Treatment, Images
What is psoriatic arthritis? Psoriatic arthritis is an arthritis type that comes with psoriasis (skin inflammation). Psoriatic...
Related Disease Conditions
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints,...
Malaria is a disease that is spread by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Malaria symptoms include fever, chills,...
Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease involving the abnormal production of extra antibodies that attack the glands and...
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease....
Sarcoidosis, a disease resulting from chronic inflammation, causes small lumps (granulomas) to develop in a great range of body...
Psoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes skin and joint inflammation. Symptoms and signs include painful, stiff, and swollen...
Still's disease (systemic-onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) is a disorder characterized by inflammation with high fever...
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis)
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or JRA) annually affects one child in every thousand. There are six...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): 17 Warning Signs of Serious Complications
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- SLE Report - 2003 Arthritis Conference
- Macrophagic Myofasciitis
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Should People With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Avoid Smoking?
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- The True Cost of EpiPen Coupons
- Study: Longer-Term Antibiotics Won't Ease 'Chronic Lyme Disease'
- Study Suggests Causes for Lupus' Impact on Immune System
- RA Strategy: Treat Early, but With What Medicines?
- Many Lupus Patients Forgo Needed Medication, Study Finds
- Expensive or Not, Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs Have Similar Effect: Study
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs Have Same Impact on Time Lost at Work: Study
- Standard Rheumatoid Arthritis Therapy as Good as Costlier Newcomer: Study
- Lupus May Be Linked to Serious Pregnancy Complication
- Strides Made in Diagnosing, Treating Lupus
- New Guidelines for Kidney Disease Due to Lupus
- New Lupus Treatment Benlysta: FAQ
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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.
FDA Prescribing Information