Longer-Term Use of Plaquenil Protects Against Lupus Flares
New research underscores the protective benefits of the medication hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil). The study compared clinical and laboratory information of more than 500 people with lupus and found that people who discontinued the treatment after less than one year were more likely to experience flares compared to those who took the drug for more than a year.
The investigators also discovered that patients with specific manifestations, such as arthritis and blood abnormalities, are more likely to flare when discontinuing Plaquenil than people with other manifestations. Additionally, they found those who stopped taking the drug were more likely to have low blood levels of complement C4 as part of their flare. C4 is a protein that play an important role in immune system functioning, and low blood values may indicate more severe flares compared to those who remained on Plaquenil.
This is the largest study comparing outcomes in people who remain on Plaquenil compared with those who discontinue the drug, and the findings support those of previous studies. Plaquenil is the most common antimalarial drug given to treat lupus, and most physicians with experience in lupus agree that antimalarial treatments should be used long-term, year-after-year in all patients who can tolerate them. Learn why treatments that were developed for malaria are now used for lupus.
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