DISEASE-MODIFYING ANTIRHEUMATIC DRUG (DMARD)
Plaquenil is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1955. Plaquenil is sometimes prescribed to treat inflammation in people with psoriatic arthritis. Plaquenil is also known by its drug name, Hydroxychloroquine.
Plaquenil should be used with caution in people with skin symptoms of psoriasis since it can cause a severe flare-up. Plaquenil may not be appropriate for people with certain vision conditions or known hypersensitivity to related drugs. Plaquenil should not be used long-term by children.
Plaquenil is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) originally developed to treat malaria. Plaquenil is believed to work by interfering in communication between the cells of the immune system.
How do I take it?
You may need to see an ophthalmologist (not an optometrist) for a checkup before beginning to take Plaquenil. While taking Plaquenil, you should return to the ophthalmologist for exams every three months to check for side effects relating to your vision.
Plaquenil is taken orally once or twice a day. Always take Plaquenil with food. Your symptoms may begin to improve within one or two months of starting Plaquenil; however, some people do not show signs of improving until they have been taking Plaquenil for six months.
Do not smoke while taking Plaquenil. Smoking can reduce the benefits Plaquenil provides.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking Plaquenil.
In an article published in 2002, researchers evaluated the use of Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and other DMARDs to treat psoriatic arthritis. The study involved 100 participants, 17 of whom were prescribed Hydroxychloroquine. More than 50 percent of those who took Hydroxychloroquine stopped treatment because it was ineffective. Another 41 percent of those taking Hydroxychloroquine stopped treatment due to side effects. The researchers concluded that Hydroxychloroquine is not adequately effective or well-tolerated as a treatment for psoriatic arthritis.
In people with skin symptoms of psoriasis, Plaquenil can trigger severe flare-ups. Other side effects from Plaquenil are rare, but may include nausea, stomach cramps, dizziness, headaches, and diarrhea. These side effects often decrease over time.
Plaquenil can cause serious eye problems, especially if taken at high doses or for longer than five years.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience vision changes, seizures, mood changes, pain in the arms, legs or back, fast heartbeat, or hair loss or color change while taking Plaquenil.
Rarely, Plaquenil can also cause allergic reactions. Get medical help immediately if you experience difficulty breathing or swelling in the face, throat, eyes, lips, or tongue.