Anti Malarial Drugs and Lupus

 In News You Can Use

The Lupus Navigator recently received a question about Plaquenil.

Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine), like Aralen (chloroquine) and Atabrine (quinacrine) are anti-malarial drugs used to treat lupus. 

These drugs were designed to treat malaria and during World War II, were discover to also treat symptoms of lupus – specifically muscle and joint pain, skin rashes, pericarditis, pleuritic, and other symptoms – like fatigue and fever.

Anti-malarial medications are safe to take with other medications and have been found safe during pregnancy.  There are some side effects – the most serious is potential damage to the retina (light sensitive part of the eye).  This sort of damage is rare and occurs after using the anti-malarial drug for five or more years.  It is important to see an ophthalmologist for an exam before starting the drug and at least once a year while on the medication.

In an LSI Teleconference on Lupus and Infections, Dr James Curran, LSI Medical Advisory Board member, discussed that the value of Plaquenil, saying “It is the safest medication we use.”

Side effects Hydroxychloroquine may cause: (Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away):
headache
dizziness
loss of appetite
nausea
diarrhea
stomach pain
vomiting
skin rash

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
reading or seeing difficulties (words, letters, or parts of objects missing)
sensitivity to light
blurred distance vision
seeing light flashes or streaks
difficulty hearing
ringing in ears
muscle weakness
bleeding or bruising of the skin
bleaching or loss of hair
mood or mental changes
irregular heartbeat
drowsiness
convulsions

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

For more information on anti-malarial and other lupus treatments go here:
https://www.lupusil.org/treating-lupus.html

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