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Precautions and Warnings With Hydroxychloroquine

It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about the precautions and warnings with hydroxychloroquine to help ensure safe treatment. Tell him or her about other medical conditions you have, as the drug may worsen certain conditions. You should not take hydroxychloroquine if you are allergic to the medication or any similar anti-malarial drugs, or have had eye problems due to these drugs.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Taking Hydroxychloroquine?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking hydroxychloroquine sulfate (Plaquenil®) if you have:
  • Psoriasis
  • Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
  • Alcoholism
  • G-6-PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency
  • Any other allergies, including allergies to food, 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 medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Some Warnings and Precautions for Hydroxychloroquine

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of with hydroxychloroquine include the following:
  • Hydroxychloroquine can damage the retina of the eye. This can lead to blindness. This problem is most common when high doses are taken for a long time. If you will be taking hydroxychloroquine for a while, it is recommended to have a thorough eye exam before starting it and every three months while taking it.
  • Hydroxychloroquine may make psoriasis worse. In some situations for people with psoriasis, the benefits of hydroxychloroquine may outweigh this risk.
  • Children are extremely sensitive to this medication. Even small accidental overdoses can be lethal. Be sure to keep this medication out of reach of children. However, when dosed appropriately, hydroxychloroquine can be used to prevent and treat malaria in children.
  • You may need extra monitoring if you take hydroxychloroquine and have liver disease, alcoholism, or a G-6-PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency. Make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have such problems.
  • If you take this medication long-term, your healthcare provider should periodically test your knee and ankle reflexes, in order to check for nerve or muscle problems.
  • Hydroxychloroquine can interact with other medications (see Drug Interactions With Hydroxychloroquine).
  • Hydroxychloroquine is usually 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. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using hydroxychloroquine during pregnancy (see Plaquenil and Pregnancy for more information).
  • Hydroxychloroquine passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about using hydroxychloroquine (see Plaquenil and Breastfeeding for more information).
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