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Hydroxychloroquine

Pronunciation

Generic Name: hydroxychloroquine (hye-DROX-ee-KLOR-oh-kwin)
Brand Name: Plaquenil

Hydroxychloroquine is used for:

Treating and suppressing certain types of malaria. It is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Hydroxychloroquine is an aminoquinoline. It is thought to work by killing sensitive malaria parasites by stopping normal metabolism inside the parasite.

Do NOT use hydroxychloroquine if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in hydroxychloroquine
  • you have vision problems or retinal changes caused by an aminoquinoline medicine
  • you are taking quinacrine

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Video: Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Doctor Ariel D. Teitel discusses several treatments that can help control the progression of the disease and help to alleviate the swelling and pain.

Before using hydroxychloroquine:

Some medical conditions may interact with hydroxychloroquine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency or blood problems (eg, porphyria)
  • if you have psoriasis, stomach or bowel problems, liver or kidney disease, high blood acid levels, or a central nervous system disease
  • if you have a history of alcohol abuse
  • if you will be having a rabies vaccine

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with hydroxychloroquine. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Mefloquine because the risk of seizures may be increased
  • Quinacrine or medicines that may harm the liver (eg, acetaminophen, methotrexate) because they may increase the risk of hydroxychloroquine's side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about whether any of your medicines may harm the liver.
  • Rabies vaccine because its effectiveness may be decreased by hydroxychloroquine.

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if hydroxychloroquine may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use hydroxychloroquine:

Use hydroxychloroquine as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take hydroxychloroquine by mouth with food or a full glass of milk (8 oz/240 mL).
  • If possible, preventative measures for malaria should begin 2 weeks before exposure and be continued for 8 weeks after leaving the endemic area.
  • If you are taking hydroxychloroquine for lupus or arthritis, it may take 4 to 12 weeks for hydroxychloroquine to work.
  • If you miss a dose of hydroxychloroquine, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use hydroxychloroquine.

Important safety information:

  • Hydroxychloroquine may cause dizziness or blurred vision. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use hydroxychloroquine with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • If your symptoms do not get better after several months or if they get worse, check with your doctor.
  • Hydroxychloroquine may cause you to become sunburned more easily. Avoid the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths until you know how you react to hydroxychloroquine. Use a sunscreen or wear protective clothing if you must be outside for more than a short time.
  • Contact your health care provider if you notice any muscle weakness or problems with your vision or hearing. Your knee and ankle reflexes will be tested periodically.
  • Caution is advised when using hydroxychloroquine in CHILDREN; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Hydroxychloroquine should not be used for a long period of time in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
  • Accidental ingestion of hydroxychloroquine in CHILDREN has been fatal. Keep hydroxychloroquine out of the reach of children. In case of overdose, call a doctor or poison control center right away.
  • Lab tests, including complete blood cell counts and eye tests, may be performed while you use hydroxychloroquine. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using hydroxychloroquine while you are pregnant. Hydroxychloroquine is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use hydroxychloroquine, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of hydroxychloroquine:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Diarrhea; dizziness; loss of appetite; mild headache; nausea; stomach cramps.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bizarre behavior; change in color of the skin or inside of the mouth; chest pain; difficulty seeing or reading (words, letters, or parts of objects missing when reading); fever or sore throat; hair loss; hearing loss; mental or mood changes; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; ringing in the ears; seizures; sensitivity to sunlight; symptoms of liver problems (eg, yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, pale stools, persistent nausea or stomach pain); unusual bleeding or bruising; unusual weakness; vision problems (eg, blurred vision, trouble focusing); weight loss.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include blurred vision; excessive excitability; fainting; headache; irregular heartbeat; loss of consciousness; mood changes; seizures; severe drowsiness or dizziness; slow, shallow breathing.

Proper storage of hydroxychloroquine:

Store hydroxychloroquine at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C), in a tightly closed container. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep hydroxychloroquine out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about hydroxychloroquine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Hydroxychloroquine is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take hydroxychloroquine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about hydroxychloroquine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to hydroxychloroquine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using hydroxychloroquine.

Issue Date: September 3, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.003
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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