Reducing or Stopping Hydroxychloroquine Treatment Associated with Increased Lupus Flare Risk
Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a foundational lupus treatment. However, people with lupus, along with their physicians, may consider tapering their HCQ dose or discontinuing the therapy altogether after long-term use and lupus disease stabilization. Now, new research underscores the importance of long-term HCQ maintenance for many people. The study found that a person who decreases her/his HCQ dose is 54% more likely to experience a flare sooner than someone who maintains the same dose. And, if someone stops taking the medication entirely, she/he is 61% more likely to have a flare sooner than someone who continues on HCQ.
Researchers analyzed data from 1,460 people with lupus who had started taking HCQ and compared those who maintained the treatment to those who reduced or discontinued their dose. In addition to finding that both tapering and stopping HCQ was linked to a shorter time to disease flare-up, they also observed that participants taking the drug prednisone and those with low education levels also had a higher risk of flares.
The data used in the study came from 33 different sites within the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) group, an international network of lupus specialists who have been working together on lupus research since 1991. The Lupus Foundation of America is proud to be part of the SLICC partnership.
Learn more about hydroxychloroquine benefits, side effects and dosing.