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Precautions and Warnings With Chloroquine

Let your healthcare provider know if you have any medical issues, such as psoriasis, alcoholism, or kidney disease, before taking chloroquine. Precautions and warnings with this drug also apply to people who have certain allergies and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, some people should avoid this prescription medication, including those who are taking certain medications or have had chloroquine-related eye problems.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking chloroquine phosphate (Aralen®) if you have any of the following:
 
  • Liver disease, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Psoriasis
  • Porphyria (an inherited skin condition)
  • Alcoholism
  • A condition called G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency
  • Any eye or vision problems
  • Hearing problems
  • A history of seizures
  • Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
     
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
 
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
     
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 

Specific Chloroquine Warnings and Precautions

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking this drug include the following:
 
  • Chloroquine can cause serious, sometimes permanent, damage to the retina of the eye. This problem is more likely to occur in people who take the drug for a long period, or who take high doses. If you will be taking chloroquine for an extended time, you will need a thorough eye exam before starting it and periodically while taking it.
     
  • This medication may cause nerve or muscle problems. If you will be taking chloroquine long-term, you will need to have your knee and ankle reflexes checked periodically. Also, tell your healthcare provider if you experience any muscle weakness or difficulty walking.
     
  • Be sure to keep chloroquine out of the reach of children. Children are very sensitive to this medication, and even small accidental overdoses can be lethal. However, when dosed appropriately, chloroquine can be used to treat or prevent malaria in children.
     
  • Chloroquine may worsen psoriasis or, in some cases, other skin conditions, such as oversensitivity to the sun. If you have psoriasis or a condition known as porphyria, talk to your healthcare provider about this before taking chloroquine.
     
  • In rare cases, this medicine has been reported to cause life-threatening skin rashes called Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). If you notice any skin rash while taking this medication, contact your healthcare provider right away. He or she will tell you if you need to stop taking chloroquine (see Stevens-Johnson and Chloroquine for more information).
     
  • Chloroquine may increase the risk for seizures. If you have ever had a seizure for any reason, you should tell your healthcare provider before taking this medication.
     
  • This drug may cause blood cell problems. People with a condition known as G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency may have an increased risk for this problem. If you will be taking chloroquine long-term, your healthcare provider will monitor you with periodic blood tests.
     
  • This medication may cause hearing problems, including ringing in the ears, reduced hearing, and loss of hearing. If you already have hearing problems, talk to your healthcare provider about this before taking chloroquine.
     
  • Chloroquine can build up in the liver. Therefore, it should be used with caution in people with liver disease or alcoholism. Make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have these problems before you start treatment.
     
  • If you develop fever or flu-like symptoms after returning from a malaria area, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Tell him or her you may have been exposed to malaria.
     
  • Chloroquine may react with a number of other medications (see Drug Interactions With Chloroquine for more information).
     
  • Chloroquine is normally considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Aralen and Pregnancy).
     
  • This medication passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to starting treatment (see Aralen and Breastfeeding).
     

Chloroquine Drug Information

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