Why am I prescribed hydroxychloroquine?
Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug which is used in the treatment of inflammatory arthritis and connective tissue diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In rheumatoid arthritis, it reduces inflammation in your joints and makes the disease less active, so reducing pain, swelling and stiffness of joints. In SLE, it helps to reduce skin rash. However, it does not work immediately and may take 12 weeks before you begin to notice an improvement, or up to 6 months to have a full effect.
How do I take the tablets?
Hydroxychloroquine is available as 200mg tablets. Your doctor will advise you on the dose that is required. It may be 200-400mg per day. The dose of hydroxychloroquine will be adjusted according to the response of your disease. The tablets should be taken with food. Hydroxychloroquine is not a pain killer and you should continue your anti-inflammatory drugs and/or painkillers unless your doctor advises otherwise.
What are the possible side effects?
Side effects are uncommon. Some patients develop skin rashes, nausea, diarrhoea or headaches and you should inform your doctor if any of these occur. A baseline eye assessment will be performed because very rarely hydroxychloroquine can affect the vision in patients who take hydroxychloroquine. Should you have any changes in your eye sight you should report to your doctor immediately and stop taking the tablets.
Does it affect pregnancy?
Hydroxychloroquine may harm the unborn child. If you are pregnant or breast feeding or planning a family, it is important to discuss this with your doctor.
Can I take other medicines along with hydroxychloroquine?
Most medicines can be taken safely at the same time, but always make sure your doctor knows about other drugs you are taking, including any you buy from the pharmacy. If you take indigestion tablets or liquids, take your hydroxychloroquine later in the day.
Please ask your doctor if you have any further questions.