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Generic name: penicillamine [ pen-ih-SILL-ah-meen ]
Brand names: Cuprimine, Depen, D-Penamine
Dosage forms: oral capsule (250 mg), oral tablet (250 mg)
Drug class: Antirheumatics

Medically reviewed by on Aug 4, 2023. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is penicillamine?

Penicillamine is a chelating (KEE-late-ing) agent that binds to excess copper and removes it from the blood stream. In certain conditions, excess copper can build up in the blood stream, leading to tissue damage throughout the body.

Penicillamine is used to remove excess copper in people with an inherited condition called Wilson's disease.

Penicillamine is also used to reduce urine levels of an amino acid called cystine, which can cause stones to form in the kidneys and bladder in people with an inherited condition called cystinuria.

Penicillamine is also used to treat severe rheumatoid arthritis after other medicines have been tried without success. Penicillamine is not approved to treat juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Penicillamine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Penicillamine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, rash; swollen glands; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Penicillamine may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

Common side effects of penicillamine may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


You should not use penicillamine if you are breast-feeding, if you have ever had an infection or damaged blood cells caused by penicillamine, or if you have kidney disease and you need penicillamine to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Every person taking penicillamine should remain under the close supervision of a doctor.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use penicillamine if you are allergic to it, or if:

Some medicines can cause unwanted or dangerous effects when used with penicillamine. Your doctor may change your treatment plan if you also use:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Follow your doctor's instructions about taking penicillamine if you are pregnant. Do not start or stop taking penicillamine without your doctor's advice, and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.

You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

How should I take penicillamine?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Take penicillamine on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.

Drink plenty of liquids while you are taking penicillamine.

Do not drink milk within 1 hour before or 1 hour after you take penicillamine.

You will need frequent urine tests.

Your condition may seem to get worse for a short time when you first start taking this medicine. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person taking penicillamine should remain under the care of a doctor.

It may take up to 3 months before your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms improve. Keep using the medication as directed and tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve.

You may need to follow a special diet while using penicillamine. Follow all instructions of your doctor or dietitian. Learn about the foods to eat or avoid to help control your condition.

If you do stop taking penicillamine for any reason, do not start taking it again until you talk to your doctor.

Your doctor may want you to take a multivitamin or take extra iron or vitamin B6 while you are taking penicillamine. Take only the amount of supplements that your doctor has prescribed.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking penicillamine?

Avoid taking other medicines at the same time you take penicillamine. If you take an iron supplement, take it at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after you take penicillamine. Iron can make it harder for your body to absorb penicillamine.

Avoid taking mineral supplements, unless your doctor tells you to.

If you have Wilson's disease, avoid eating nuts, chocolate, molasses, liver, shellfish, mushrooms, broccoli, and cereals that are fortified with copper. Also avoid taking mineral supplements that contain copper. If your drinking water supply contains more than 0.1 mg of copper per liter, you may need to drink distilled or demineralized water.

What other drugs will affect penicillamine?

Other drugs may affect penicillamine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.