Plaquenil

Generic Name: Hydroxychloroquine

  • What is Plaquenil?

    Plaquenil is prescribed for the prevention and treatment of certain forms of malaria.

    Plaquenil is also used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as swelling, inflammation, stiffness, and joint pain. It is also prescribed for lupus erythematosus, a chronic connective tissue inflammatory disorder.

  • What is the most important information I should know about Plaquenil?

    Children are especially sensitive to Plaquenil. Relatively small doses of this drug have caused fatalities. Keep Plaquenil in a child-proof container and out of the reach of children.

    Plaquenil should generally be avoided during pregnancy, except for the treatment or prevention of malaria. The benefit of using Plaquenil during pregnancy should be weighed against the risk.

    Use Plaquenil with caution if you have active liver disease, drink a lot of alcohol, or are taking medications that can affect the liver.

    Use Plaquenil with caution if you have psoriasis or porphyria, since this drug may exacerbate these conditions. You and your doctor will need to determine if the benefit of using this drug outweighs the risk.

    If you have any vision problems or unusual symptoms (e.g., light flashes or streaks), notify your doctor immediately. When prescribed for lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, Plaquenil may cause a serious eye disorder that can lead to impairment or loss of vision. This may be related to the Plaquenil dose and length of treatment. Problems have occurred several months to several years after beginning therapy. You should have an eye exam at the beginning of treatment and every 3 months thereafter.

    Plaquenil could cause severe muscle problems or blood disorders if taken for a long time. If you are on long-term therapy, you should have periodic physical exams, including testing of knee and ankle reflexes to detect muscular weakness, as well as blood tests to measure blood cell counts.

    Plaquenil may cause dermatitis (skin rash or inflammation). Use Plaquenil cautiously when combining it with any product that can cause dermatitis (ask your doctor or pharmacist about these types of products).

  • Who should not take Plaquenil?

    If you are sensitive to or have ever had an allergic reaction to Plaquenil or similar drugs, such as chloroquine, you should not take Plaquenil. Make sure your doctor is aware of any drug reactions you have experienced.

    Plaquenil should not be prescribed if you have suffered partial or complete loss of vision in small areas while taking Plaquenil or similar drugs. Notify your doctor of any past or present visual changes you have experienced.

    This drug should not be used for long-term therapy in children.

  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Plaquenil?

    Tell your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medication you are taking before beginning treatment with Plaquenil. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially the following: alcohol abuse, nervous system problems, digestive problems, eye damage or visual changes due to hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, kidney or liver problems, psoriasis, or porphyria.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    Lupus Erythematosus

    Adults: The usual starting dose is 400 milligrams (mg) once or twice daily. You will continue to take this dose for several weeks or months, depending on your response. For longer-term therapy, your doctor may reduce the dose to 200-400 mg per day.

    Malaria (acute attack)

    Adults: The usual starting dose is 800 mg, to be followed by 400 mg in 6 to 8 hours and 400 mg on each of 2 consecutive days. Alternatively, your doctor may prescribe a single dose of 800 mg.

    Children: The doctor will base the dose on your child's weight.

    Malaria Prevention

    Adults: The usual dose is 400 mg taken once every 7 days on exactly the same day of each week. If circumstances permit, preventive therapy should begin 2 weeks prior to exposure. If this is not possible, your doctor will have you take a starting dose of 800 mg, which may be divided into 2 doses taken 6 hours apart. You should continue this suppressive therapy for 8 weeks after leaving the area where malaria occurs.

    Children: The doctor will base the dose on your child's weight.

    Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Adults: The usual starting dose is 400-600 mg a day, taken with a meal or a glass of milk. If your condition improves, usually within 4-12 weeks, your doctor will reduce the dose to a maintenance level of 200-400 mg daily.

    If a relapse occurs after Plaquenil is stopped, therapy may be resumed or continued on an intermittent schedule if there are no signs of eye or vision problems.

  • How should I take Plaquenil?

    Take Plaquenil exactly as prescribed for the full course of therapy.

    If you have been prescribed Plaquenil for rheumatoid arthritis, take each dose with a meal or glass of milk. It can take several weeks for the benefits to appear.

  • What should I avoid while taking Plaquenil?

    Use caution when driving or performing other hazardous activities until you know how this medication affects you. Plaquenil may cause visual disturbances such as blurred vision, misty vision, and difficulty focusing. Report any vision or hearing changes to your doctor.

    Plaquenil may cause you to become sunburned more easily. Avoid the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths until you know how you react to this medication. Use a sunscreen or wear protective clothing if you must be outside for more than a short time.

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Plaquenil?

    If Plaquenil is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Plaquenil with alcohol or any medication that may affect the liver.

  • What are the possible side effects of Plaquenil?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects of treatment for malaria may include: heart problems, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, dizziness, lack or loss of appetite, mild headache, nausea, vomiting

    Side effects of treatment for lupus or and rheumatoid arthritis may include: abdominal cramps, change in eye color, vision problems (e.g., light flashes or streaks), acne, anemia, lightening of hair, blisters in mouth and eyes, blood disorders, convulsions, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, diminished reflexes or muscle problems including paralysis, dizziness, emotional changes, darkening of skin, headache, hearing loss or ringing in ears, breathing difficulties, heart problems, hives, itching, light intolerance, liver problems or failure, hair loss, loss or lack of appetite, nightmares, psoriasis, skin rash or inflammation , dizziness, extreme fatigue, weight loss

  • Can I receive Plaquenil if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Plaquenil should be avoided during pregnancy except to treat or prevent malaria when, in the judgment of your doctor, the benefit outweighs the possible risk. This drug may appear in breast milk and could affect a nursing infant. If Plaquenil is essential to your health, your doctor may advise you to discontinue breastfeeding until your treatment is finished.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Plaquenil?

    Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

  • How should I store Plaquenil?

    Store at room temperature in a tightly closed container, away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom.

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