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Updated 11 February 2013

Chloroquine

Chloroquine is prescribed for the prevention and treatment of chloroquine-sensitive malaria.

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Chloroquine is the active ingredient of Daramal, Mirquin, Nivaquine and Plasmoquine.

General Information

Chloroquine is prescribed for the prevention and treatment of chloroquine-sensitive malaria. Widespread resistance does however limit its use and causes it to be ineffective in many parts of the world.

If indeed used to prevent malaria, treatment is started with 300 mg one week before entering a malarial area and continued once a week until 4 weeks after leaving. If using chloroquine for prevention of malaria, immediate medical attention should be sought should flu-like symptoms develop - this may be an indication of malaria.

Chloroquine is also used to treat auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus, and, in combination with the antibiotic metronidazole, to treat amoeba infections.

Long-term treatment with chloroquine may damage the eyes and may lead to blindness. For this reason, 6-monthly eye examinations are recommended for those taking chloroquine to detect and prevent early visual changes.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 1 (for malaria prevention); Schedule 4

Available as: Chloroquine is available as tablets, capsules and syrup.

What does it do? Chloroquine has an anti-malarial function and is also effective for treating some autoimmune diseases.

Overdose risk: High

Dependence risk: Low

Is chloroquine available as a generic? Yes

Is chloroquine available on prescription only? No

User information

Onset of effect: Depends on condition being treated.

Duration of action: Up to 7 days

Dietary advice: Gastrointestinal effects are less when taken with food.

Stopping this medicine: Do not stop this drug unless the advised course for malaria prevention/treatment has been completed. If used for treatment of other conditions, you should speak to your prescriber before discontinuing chloroquine.

Prolonged use: Prolonged use may cause eye damage and blood disorders. Your doctor may request periodic eye and blood tests.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you are an alcoholic
  • you have liver or kidney disease
  • you have epilepsy
  • you have psoriasis
  • you have a neurological disorder, including myasthenia gravis
  • you have a blood disorder
  • you are taking other medications.

Pregnancy: Have been used. Discuss with doctor before entering a malarial area.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use or entering a malarial area.

Porphyria: This medication is safe to use.

Infants and children: This medication is safe for use in children at the recommended dose.

Elderly: No special precautions need to be taken.

Driving and hazardous work: Caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol, or keep consumption low if taken with this medication.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

Diarrhoea

x

Nausea/ vomiting

x

Rash/itching skin

x

x

Headache

x

x

Dizziness

x

x

Anger/behaviour changes

x

x

Hearing/ visual disturbances

x

x

Interactions:

Drug interactions:

Alcohol

Increased liver toxicity

Amiodarone

Increased possibility of heart- rhythm disturbance

Antacids

Reduced chloroquine absorption. Take at least 3 hours apart.

Ciclosporin

Increased possibility of ciclosporin toxicity

Cimetidine

Increased possibility of chloroquine toxicity

Digoxin

Increased possibility of digoxin toxicity

Drugs for epilepsy

Reduced effect of epileptic drugs

Overdose action

An overdose of this medication can be fatal. Seek immediate emergency medical attention. Symptoms may include convulsions, breathing difficulties or loss of consciousness.

Recommended dosage

Adults:

Amoeba infections: 600 mg once a day for 2 days, then 300 mg once a day for 14-21 days.

Rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus erythematosus: 150 mg or 2.4 mg/kg once a day until remission is obtained. After remission a 5-days-a-week regimen should be attempted.

Malaria prevention: 300 mg once a week, starting 1 week before entering malarial area and continuing until 4 weeks after return.

Malaria treatment: 3 day treatment - 600 mg initially, followed by 300 mg 6-8 hours later, and then 300 mg once a day on days 2 and 3.

Children:

Amoeba infections: 10 mg/kg/day (Max. 300 mg) for 14-21 days.

Malaria prevention: 5 mg/kg once a week.

Malaria treatment: 3 day treatment - 10 mg/kg (max 600 mg) initially, followed by 5 mg/kg (max 300 mg) 6, 24 and 48 hours after the first dose.

 
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