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Cuprimine Side Effects

Generic Name: penicillamine

Note: This page contains information about the side effects of penicillamine. Some of the dosage forms included on this document may not apply to the brand name Cuprimine.

In Summary

Common side effects of Cuprimine include: epigastric pain, glossitis, cheilosis, oral mucosa ulcer, ageusia, and dysgeusia. Other side effects include: thrombocytopenia. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to penicillamine: oral capsule, oral tablet

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by penicillamine (the active ingredient contained in Cuprimine). In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

Severity: Moderate

If any of the following side effects occur while taking penicillamine, check with your doctor or nurse as soon as possible:

More common:
  • Fever
  • joint pain
  • lesions on the face, neck, scalp, and/or trunk
  • skin rash, hives, or itching
  • swollen and/or painful glands
  • ulcers, sores, or white spots on lips or in mouth
Less common:
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • shortness of breath, troubled breathing, tightness in chest, or wheezing
  • sore throat and fever with or without chills
  • swelling of face, feet, or lower legs
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • weight gain
  • Abdominal or stomach pain (severe)
  • blisters on skin
  • bloody or black, tarry stools
  • chest pain
  • coughing or hoarseness
  • dark urine
  • difficulty in breathing, chewing, talking, or swallowing
  • eye pain, blurred or double vision, or any change in vision
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness or weakness
  • lower back or side pain
  • muscle weakness
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pale stools
  • pinpoint red spots on skin
  • redness, tenderness, itching, burning, or peeling of skin
  • red or irritated eyes
  • red, thick, or scaly skin
  • ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • spitting blood
  • yellow eyes or skin

Minor Side Effects

Some of the side effects that can occur with penicillamine may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

More common:
  • Diarrhea
  • lessening or loss of sense of taste
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea or vomiting
  • stomach pain (mild)

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to penicillamine: oral capsule, oral tablet

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have included tinnitus, myasthenia gravis, polyradiculopathy (rare), peripheral sensory and motor neuropathies (including polyradiculoneuropathy). Muscular weakness may or may not occur with the peripheral neuropathies.[Ref]


Ocular side effects have included reversible optic neuritis with racemic penicillamine (the active ingredient contained in Cuprimine) (may be related to pyridoxine deficiency).[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects have included anorexia, epigastric pain, nausea, vomiting, and occasional diarrhea (17%). Some patients may report a blunting, diminution, or total loss of taste perception (12%); or may develop oral ulcerations. Although rare, cheilosis, glossitis, and gingivostomatitis have been reported.[Ref]


Hematologic side effects have included thrombocytopenia (4%), leukopenia (2%), and bone marrow depression. Fatalities have been reported as a result of thrombocytopenia, agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia, and sideroblastic anemia.[Ref]


Renal side effects have included proteinuria (6%) and/or hematuria which, in some, may progress to the development of the nephrotic syndrome as a result of an immune complex membranous glomerulopathy. Renal failure and a severe and ultimately fatal renal vasculitis have also been reported.[Ref]


Musculoskeletal side effects have included myasthenia gravis and dystonia.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects have included skin friability, excessive wrinkling of skin, toxic epidermal necrolysis, anetoderma, development of small white papules at venipuncture and surgical sites, lichen planus, and bullous pemphigoid.[Ref]


Respiratory side effects have included allergic alveolitis, obliterative bronchiolitis, interstitial pneumonitis, pulmonary fibrosis, and bronchial asthma.[Ref]


Other side effects have included hyperpyrexia, alopecia, and Goodpasture's syndrome.[Ref]

The chelating action of the drug may cause increased excretion of other heavy metals such as zinc, mercury, and lead.[Ref]


Local side effects have included thrombophlebitis.[Ref]


Genitourinary side effects have included mammary atrophy.[Ref]


Immunologic side effects have included polymyositis and dermatomyositis.[Ref]


There have been reports associating penicillamine (the active ingredient contained in Cuprimine) with leukemia. However, circumstances involved in these reports are such that a cause and effect relationship to penicillamine has not been established.[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Cuprimine (penicillamine)." Merck & Co, Inc, West Point, PA.

Not all side effects for Cuprimine may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.