Plaquenil or hydroxychloroquine is widely used in treatment of inflammatory arthritis and connective tissue diseases but its mechanism of action is not known. In the past it was used for the treatment of malaria. It reduces inflammation (pain and swelling of the joints), decreases fatigue, and helps with the rashes of lupus. Recent studies showed its beneficial effects for the normalization of the lipid levels and prevention of the atherosclerosis in patients with connective tissue diseases, reducing dryness in Sjogren’s syndrome and benefits in the treatment of the anti-phospholipid antibody syndrome.

The usual dose of plaquenil is 200-400 mg a day (1 or 2 tablets). Its full effects are felt after 3-6 months of use. All medications used in rheumatic diseases can be  safely used along with plaquenil. Most of the patients would not have side effects with this medication.

More common side effects:

  • mild nausea, upset stomach (should be take with food or before bed);
  • diarrhea;
  • initially mild blurry vision;

Rare side effects:

  • increased sensitivity to sun or worsening of psoriasis;
  • blue discolouration of the skin;
  • headaches or ringing in the ears;
  • muscle weakness;
  • deposition at the back of the eyes with blurred vision (very rare and related to the length of the use and dose of the medication). Patients who start this medication have a baseline eye examination at 4-6 months and then once a year.

All side effects should be reported to the doctor.

Plaqueil is safe to be used in pregnancy. It is not advised for use while breastfeeding.

 Your pharmacist will give you the full list of the side effects when you buy the medication. Please, advise your pharmacist about other medications you take.