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Mefloquine

Pronunciation

Generic Name: mefloquine (MEF-loe-kwin)
Brand Name: Generic only. No brands available.

Mefloquine may cause mental or mood problems or problems with your body's nervous system that may last after mefloquine is stopped. Do not take mefloquine to prevent malaria if you have mental or mood problems. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of mental or mood problems (eg, anxiety, behavior changes, confusion, depression, hallucinations, paranoia, restlessness, suicidal thoughts or actions) or symptoms of nervous system problems (eg, dizziness, feeling that you or things around you are moving or spinning, loss of balance, ringing in your ears, seizures, trouble sleeping). Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.

Some people taking mefloquine have committed suicide. It is not known if mefloquine was the reason for those suicides. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.


Mefloquine is used for:

Treating or preventing malaria.

Mefloquine is an antimalarial agent. Exactly how it works to kill sensitive malaria parasites is not known.

Do NOT use mefloquine if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in mefloquine or to a similar medicine (eg, quinine, quinidine)
  • you do not already have malaria and you currently have depression, a recent history of mental illness (eg, anxiety disorder, depression, psychosis, schizophrenia) or a history of seizures
  • you are taking chloroquine, halofantrine, ketoconazole, quinidine, or quinine

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

Slideshow: View Frightful (But Dead Serious) Drug Side Effects

Before using mefloquine:

Some medical conditions may interact with mefloquine. 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 a history of seizures, heart problems (eg, irregular heartbeat), blood clotting problems, liver problems, diabetes, mental or mood problems (eg, depression), or suicidal thoughts or actions
  • if you are taking medicine for diabetes (eg, glyburide) or an anticoagulant (eg, warfarin)
  • if you are scheduled to receive a vaccine

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

  • Antiarrhythmics (eg, amiodarone, propafenone, quinidine), certain antihistamines (eg, astemizole, terfenadine), beta-blockers (eg, propranolol), calcium channel blockers (eg, amlodipine, verapamil), chloroquine, dofetilide, halofantrine, hydroxychloroquine, ketoconazole, paliperidone, phenothiazines (eg, thioridazine), quinine, tricyclic antidepressants (eg, amitriptyline), or ziprasidone because the risk of heart problems (eg, irregular heartbeat) or seizures may be increased
  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin) because the risk of bleeding may be increased
  • Rifampin because it may decrease mefloquine's effectiveness
  • Anticonvulsants (eg, valproic acid, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin) because their effectiveness may be decreased by mefloquine

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if mefloquine 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 mefloquine:

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

  • Mefloquine comes with an extra patient information sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it carefully. Read it again each time you get mefloquine refilled.
  • Take mefloquine by mouth with a full glass of water (8 oz [240 mL]) right after you eat your main meal. Do not take it on an empty stomach.
  • If the tablets cannot be swallowed whole, they may be crushed and mixed with a small amount of water, milk, or other beverage. Be sure to drink all the liquid so that you receive the entire dose.
  • Mefloquine may cause vomiting, especially in children. Check with your doctor to see if you should take another dose if you vomit after taking mefloquine.
  • If you are taking mefloquine to prevent malaria, begin taking it 1 week before traveling. Continue to take it for 4 weeks after leaving the malaria area. If you cannot complete the treatment, contact your doctor.
  • If you are taking other medicines, ask your doctor if you should start taking mefloquine 2 to 3 weeks before traveling in order to make sure that the combination of medicines is well tolerated.
  • Weekly doses of mefloquine should be taken regularly, on the same day of each week, preferably after the main meal of the day.
  • Continue to use mefloquine for the full course of treatment. Do not miss any doses. Malaria can be life-threatening.
  • If you miss a dose of mefloquine and you are taking it to prevent infection, 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 mefloquine.

Important safety information:

  • Mefloquine may cause drowsiness, dizziness, light-headedness, or a loss of balance. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Effects of mefloquine may continue for a period of time (eg, several weeks) or may not go away, even after you stop taking it. Use mefloquine with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Carry an ID card at all times that says you take mefloquine.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take mefloquine before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Mefloquine may decrease the effectiveness of live vaccines. Check with your doctor before you receive any vaccines while you are using mefloquine.
  • Women who may become pregnant should use effective birth control while taking mefloquine and for up to 3 months after stopping treatment. Check with your doctor if you have questions about using birth control.
  • Contact your doctor right away if you experience mental or mood changes (eg, anxiety, depression, restlessness, confusion, hallucinations, paranoia). You may need to stop taking mefloquine and start a different malaria medicine.
  • If you have to stop taking mefloquine for any reason and you do not have access to a doctor or to another malaria medicine, leave the malaria area and contact a doctor as soon as possible. Leaving the area may not protect you from contracting malaria. You may still need to take another medicine to prevent the disease.
  • No medicine is completely effective against malaria. While you are in an area where malaria exists, use bed nets and insect repellents and wear protective clothing (long sleeves and long pants) to decrease your risk. In some situations, you may want to pre-wash your clothes with permethrin, a mosquito repellent that may be effective for weeks after use. Ask your doctor for other ways to protect yourself.
  • Contact your health care provider at once if you develop a fever or flu-like symptoms (eg, chills, headache, muscle pains) after returning from an area where malaria exists.
  • If you are using mefloquine to treat malaria and your symptoms do not improve within 48 to 72 hours, contact your doctor right away.
  • If your doctor tells you to stop taking mefloquine, you will need to wait for at least 15 weeks before you start to take certain other medicines (eg, halofantrine, ketoconazole). Ask your doctor when you should start to take any new medicines after you stop mefloquine.
  • Lab tests, including liver function, complete blood cell count, and eye exams, may be performed while you use mefloquine. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use mefloquine with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially heart problems.
  • Mefloquine should not be used in CHILDREN who are younger than 6 months old or who weigh less than 44 lbs (20 kg); safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Do not become pregnant while you are taking mefloquine. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using mefloquine while you are pregnant. Mefloquine is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking mefloquine.

Possible side effects of mefloquine:

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; drowsiness; headache; light-headedness; loss of appetite; muscle aches; nausea; stomach pain or upset; strange dreams; tiredness; trouble sleeping; vomiting.

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; chest pain; fainting; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; flu-like symptoms (eg, chills, fever, headache, muscle pain); loss of balance or coordination; memory problems; mental or mood changes (eg, anxiety, confusion, depression, hallucinations, mood changes, paranoia, restlessness); numbness or tingling of the hands or feet; red, swollen, or blistered skin; ringing in the ears; seizures; severe or persistent cough; shortness of breath; suicidal thoughts or attempts; symptoms of liver problems (eg, dark urine, pale stools, persistent stomach pain or loss of appetite, persistent tiredness, yellowing of the skin or eyes); tremor; vision changes.

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 diarrhea; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; mental or mood changes; vomiting.

Proper storage of mefloquine:

Store mefloquine at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about mefloquine, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Mefloquine 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 mefloquine 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 mefloquine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to mefloquine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using mefloquine.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
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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