July 23, 2014
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Drug Factsheets

 Health Home >> Medications 

Plaquenil

(hydroxychloroquine)

DIN (Drug Identification Number)

02017709 PLAQUENIL 200MG TABLET

What side effects are possible with Plaquenil?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • skin rash
  • stomach cramps or pain

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • blurred vision or any change in vision - this effect may also occur or worsen after stopping the medication
  • mood or other mental changes
  • muscle weakness
  • ringing or buzzing in ears or any loss of hearing
  • sore throat and fever
  • unusual bleeding and bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • convulsions (seizures)
  • severe skin rash (e.g., blistering or peeling skin)
  • signs of a severe allergic reaction, e.g.:
    • difficulty breathing
    • hives
    • swelling of the face, mouth, throat, or tongue

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.





Are there any other precautions or warnings for Plaquenil?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Blood tests: If you take this medication for a long period of time, your doctor will likely want you to have blood tests to monitor your levels of red and white blood cells.

Blurred vision: While taking this medication, use caution when driving or operating machinery, since hydroxychloroquine can cause blurring of vision. If your vision blurs, call your doctor.

Eye damage: Irreversible damage to the retina of the eye has occurred for some people who take long-term or high-dosage treatment with hydroxychloroquine. Eye damage is more likely to occur if recommended doses are exceeded. Your doctor will want you to have regular eye exams if you take this medication for a period of time. If you notice any new problems with sight or symptoms such as light flashes and streaks, stop the medication at once and call your doctor.

Kidney disease: If you have kidney disease, you may need a lower dose of this medication. Talk to your doctor about how this medication may affect your medical condition, how the medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Liver disease: If you have liver disease, you may need a lower dose of this medication. Talk to your doctor about how this medication may affect your medical condition, how the medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Muscle weakness: Call your doctor if you notice any unusual evidence of muscular weakness.

Other medical conditions: If you have stomach, nerve, blood, or skin disorders, talk to your doctor about how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: This medication passes in small amounts into breast milk. Infants are extremely sensitive to its side effects. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking hydroxychloroquine, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children when used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus. Children are especially sensitive to the side effects of hydroxychloroquine.

What other drugs could interact with Plaquenil?

There may be an interaction between hydroxychloroquine and any of the following:

  • cyclosporine
  • dapsone
  • diabetes medications (e.g., glyburide, chlorpropamide, rosiglitazone)
  • echinacea
  • digoxin
  • insulin
  • leflunomide
  • live vaccines (e.g., BCG, yellow fever, measles, mumps, rubella)
  • mefloquine
  • natalizumab
  • pimecrolimus
  • roflumilast
  • tacrolimus

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

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