Plaquenil Generic 200/400mg (Hydroxychloroquine): Indications, Uses, Affordable Alternatives, Side Effects
Plaquenil is a medicine shouted about both on the Web and TV in recent months. And the key reason is its putative potential to treat the most acute health problem of these days ― COVID-19. However, in the first place, it is a medication for treating malaria and auto-immune diseases. Read on to learn more about its properties and find out whether it meets your health needs.
When to Use Plaquenil?
Again, it is a number-one drug for preventing and treating this infection. It was officially approved by US medical authorities in 1955. So, as of now, doctors have extensive experience of its safe and effective utilization.
Malaria is caused by plasmodium parasites, which are carried by mosquitoes. These parasites are widely spread in hot tropical areas such as Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, Oceania, the Middle East. So, when planning a trip to any of these regions, one must turn to his health provider and get full information about necessary precautions.
This disease starts like the flu or a cold ― from headaches, fever, fatigue, shaking chills, sweating, and aches in the body. But, over some time, it can result in blood losses, blood clots, a dramatic drop in blood sugar, kidney, liver, or spleen failures, seizures, convulsions, coma, and even death. Therefore, its prevention and treatment are life-critical.
To be objective, as of now, the mechanism of antimalarial action of Hydroxychloroquine is not entirely studied. There are still certain gaps left. However, it is known that this active substance can penetrate cells of plasmodium parasites and reduce internal acidity. That prevents these parasites from converting heme into crystal hematin. The point is that heme is toxic to them. So, its accumulation in their cells leads to their death.
Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases
The property of this medication to regulate the work of the immune system was found out in the course of its use for malaria treatment. Doctors noticed that those patients who took it suffered from skin rashes and arthritis more rarely.
As of now, it is known that this product can be effectively used for overcoming such autoimmune problems as:
- rheumatoid arthritis;
- porphyria cutanea tarda.
When used in patients with autoimmune diseases, this medication has the potential to significantly improve the quality of their life. Namely, it relieves pains, swelling, and stiffness in the joints, as well as reduces rashes (in the case of lupus).
Hydroxychloroquine does not suppress the immune system. Instead, its action is targeted upon autoantibodies, which can get hyperactive and provoke excessive and potentially harmful immune responses. In other words, this product helps to prevent and block unwanted immune reactions.
The discussion about the relevance and effectuality of its use for the treatment of the new coronavirus infection started in 2020. As of now, the medical community has not managed to come to a common view on this issue.
In the course of studies, medical experts have not found any solid evidence that the potential and known benefits of this drug for patients with COVID-19 outweigh the risks associated with its use. So, a significant part of patients reported minor problems, such as headaches or digestive problems. Besides, researchers found out that the use of this medication also increases the risk of severe side effects, such as heart rhythm deviations, blood diseases, lymph system problems, kidney diseases, liver diseases and failures. At the same time, there is no evidence that its utilization decreases the risk of contamination, complications, or death in the case of the coronavirus 2019.
So, many countries have excluded it from the corresponding guidelines ― along with other medicines, which turned out to be ineffective for COVID, such as Ivermectin. In addition, a sudden increase in demand for this drug provoked hard deficiency in most countries of the world. As a result, patients suffering from malaria and auto-immune diseases were deprived of the life-saving therapy.
How to Save on Plaquenil?
It is no secret that its price at US pharmacies is rather expensive. If it is not covered by your insurance plan, you will have to plunk down a hefty sum. Luckily, there is a safe way to cut those costs by up to 90%.
Like most other popular medicines, Plaquenil is produced and sold as generic versions as well. For example, it is often marketed as Hydroxychloroquine (which is the name of its active substance). All the versions available at pharmacies are equivalent and interchangeable, regardless of the manufacturer. It is up to a patient to decide whether to pay for a famous brand name or to avoid any extra expenses. Obviously, most customers give preference to cheaper generic alternatives as they work equally well. The only reason why their cost is much lower is that it does not include research and development expenses.
How Much Does It Cost?
For you to get a clear idea of benefits offered by generic alternatives, let us compare prices:
|For Sale||Generic Hydroxychloroquine||Brand Plaquenil|
($1.17 per pill)
($13.40 per pill)
($1.05 per pill)
($13.32 per pill)
($0.96 per pill)
($13.29 per pill)
($1.90 per pill)
($1.73 per pill)
($1.58 per pill)
As you can see, buying generic tablets will allow you to save about 90%. Besides, in the case of generics, you will get access to a wider selection of dosage forms. That will make your therapy more comfortable.
How to Administer This Drug?
To start with, it is crucial to highlight that this medication is distributed on prescription only, due to a significant risk of adverse reactions and drug interactions. Hence, we provide information on its use for informative purposes only. Before trying this medicine, you must contact a doctor and receive individual instructions based on your age, weight, and state of health.
As it has already been noted, in many cases this drug is used for preventive purposes. So, one should start the course 2 weeks prior to a trip to an endemic area. These tablets must be taken on the same day one time per week. A patient should continue using the same dosage and regimen during his entire visit to a dangerous area and for 4 weeks after his trip is finished. As for standard doses, adult patients should get 400 mg per week. And the dosage for children depends on their weight ― 6.5 mg per kg. But it should not exceed 400 mg. Note that if the weight of a patient is less than 31 kg, he cannot be prescribed this drug as the lowest available dosage is 200 mg. For the sake of safety, tablets must never be divided into parts.
In the case of uncomplicated malaria, the course for adult patients should be as follows: an initial dose of 800 mg, a second one ― 400 mg in 6 hours, a third one ― 400 mg in 24 hours, and a fourth one ― 400 mg in 48 hours. Children (with a weight of 31 kg and more) must take the first dose of 13 mg/kg. The subsequent doses must equal 6.5 mg/kg. They are administered according to the same scheme.
In such cases, this drug is prescribed to adult patients only. As a rule, doctors prescribe a daily dose of 200-400 mg. That can be both administered as a single dose or divided into two intakes. You must be ready that such therapy can last several weeks or even months before you notice any positive changes.
How to Use It Safely: Contraindications and Precautions
To utilize this medicine both effectively and safely, you must provide a doctor with exhaustive information on your health problems. In the first place, you must warn him about:
- allergies to Hydroxychloroquine, Chloroquine, or other active and inactive ingredients;
- sight/eye problems;
- hearing issues;
- kidney or liver diseases;
- skin diseases (like psoriasis);
- blood diseases;
- enzyme problems;
Certainly, female patients must always inform their doctors about pregnancy or breastfeeding before starting a course. Besides, you should take into consideration that this medicine is incompatible with certain drugs. In the first place, you should inform your doctor about using:
- medicines or supplements containing iron.
One of the potential side effects of this treatment is dizziness. Hence, you must avoid driving, cycling, or any other dangerous activities until you see how your organism responds to the treatment.
In addition, you must keep in mind that alcohol consumption or cannabis use can make the situation worse. So, you should avoid that. In case you need cannabis for medical purposes, turn to your health provider for additional recommendations.
What Side Effects Can You Face?
Common adverse reactions:
- skin rashes or itching;
- mood swings;
- sight issues (blurred sight, blind spots, halos, and other deviations);
- stomach pains and cramps.
Although the problems mentioned above are rather frequent, you should contact your doctor if they get severe or affect the quality of your life.
Rare side effects (which require medical surveillance):
- hair loss or bleaching;
- problems with nerves or muscles (like tremors, weakness, or numbness);
- hear loss or hearing rings;
- changes in skin color.
Other severe issues (which also must be reported to your doctor):
- sensitivity to sunlight;
- a decrease in blood sugar;
- anemia symptoms (like extreme fatigue or paleness);
- signs of liver problems (vomiting, dark urine, skin yellowness, and others);
- heart rhythm deviations;
- breath shortness;
- allergic reactions.
How to avoid or relieve the symptoms mentioned?
Follow these simple steps:
- Consult a doctor before starting a course.
- Stick to his instructions on use.
- Do not exceed the dosage prescribed regardless of the progress.
- Take tablets with food or milk to prevent adverse reactions on the part of the digestive system.
- Watch the reaction of your organism and report any severe symptoms to your health provider.
- Adjust the dosage on your doctor’s recommendation.
Disclaimer: The information you can find in this article is presented purely for educational purposes. Any drugs and their exact dosages should be selected only after consulting a medical professional that is aware of your medical history. The article doesn’t offer in-depth information regarding Sporanox so it shouldn’t be used as a guideline in your treatment. Taking this drug without consulting a specialist can be dangerous and increase the risk of side effects. If you are interested in taking this medication, you may need to undergo a physical examination and perform laboratory tests to assess your current state of health. This site doesn’t bear responsibility for the information presented here and any instances that may arise from following these recommendations.