What is hydroxychloroquine?

Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat or prevent malaria, a disease caused by parasites. Parasites that cause malaria typically enter the body through the bite of a mosquito. Malaria is common in areas such as Africa, South America, and Southern Asia.

Hydroxychloroquine is also used to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and discoid or systemic lupus erythematosus.

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

Precautions

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to hydroxychloroquine, or if you have a history of vision changes or damage to your retina caused by hydroxychloroquine or similar anti-malaria medications.

Hydroxychloroquine should not be used for long-term treatment in children.

Before using hydroxychloroquine, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • psoriasis;
  • porphyria;
  • liver disease;
  • alcoholism; or
  • glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD) deficiency.

If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take hydroxychloroquine.

Your doctor will tell you if any of your medication doses need to be changed.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Malaria is more likely to cause death in a pregnant woman. If you are pregnant, talk with your doctor about the risks of traveling to areas where malaria is common.

It is not known whether hydroxychloroquine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Follow your doctor’s instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity while you are using hydroxychloroquine.

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Instructions

Call a poison control center at once and then seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. An overdose of hydroxychloroquine can be fatal, especially in children.

Treatment of a hydroxychloroquine overdose must be started quickly. You may be told to induce vomiting right away (at home, before transport to an emergency room). Ask the poison control center how to induce vomiting in the case of a hydroxychloroquine overdose.

Overdose symptoms may include headache, drowsiness, vision changes, slow heart rate, chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, seizure (convulsions), shallow breathing, or breathing that stops.

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to take the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

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Side Effects

Some people taking this medication over long periods of time or at high doses have developed irreversible damage to the retina of the eye. Stop taking hydroxychloroquine and call your doctor at once if you have trouble focusing, if you see light streaks or flashes in your vision, or if you notice any swelling or color changes in your eyes.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • muscle weakness, twitching, or uncontrolled movement;
  • loss of balance or coordination;
  • blurred vision, light sensitivity, seeing halos around lights;
  • pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding;
  • confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior; or
  • seizure (convulsions).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • headache, ringing in your ears;
  • spinning sensation;
  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain;
  • loss of appetite, weight loss;
  • mood changes, feeling nervous or irritable;
  • skin rash or itching; or
  • hair loss.

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.

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Interactions

Before taking hydroxychloroquine, tell your doctor if you are also using any medications that can have side effects on the liver, such as:

  • acetaminophen (Tylenol);
  • cancer medications;
  • tuberculosis medications;
  • birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy;
  • arthritis medications such as auranofin (Ridaura), aurothioglucose (Solganol), or methotrexate (Rheumatrex);
  • an ACE inhibitor such as benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), or quinapril (Accupril);
  • an antibiotic such as dapsone, erythromycin (E-Mycin, E.E.S., Ery-Tab, Erythrocin), rifampin (Rifadin, Rifamate, Rimactane), or troleandomycin (Tao);
  • an antifungal medication such as fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), or ketoconazole (Nizoral);
  • cholesterol medications such as niacin (Advicor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Altocor, Mevacor), simvastatin (Zocor), and others;
  • HIV/AIDS medications such as lamivudine (Combivir, Epivir), abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine (Trizivir), nevirapine (Viramune), tenofovir (Viread), or zidovudine (Retrovir);
  • an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), etodolac (Lodine), indomethacin (Indocin), ketoprofen (Orudis), and others; or
  • seizure medications such as carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), felbamate (Felbatol), valproic acid (Depakene).

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with hydroxychloroquine. Tell your doctor about all your prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Other Names

Plaquenil Sulfate, Quineprox, and hydroxychloroquine

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Disclaimer

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. 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 drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 2.05. Revision date 8/23/04

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