Hydroxychloroquine or Plaquenil is a medication used widely in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus).
It’s really considered quite a gentle immune modulating medication and it’s cheap, so rheumatologists use it a lot to try and help the symptoms patients present with.
When I was training to be a rheumatologist, I was taught to use it for mild lupus, mainly for those people who presented with skin or rash as their lupus manifestations.
Over the years, more and more evidence has accumulated to suggest that Hydroxychloroquine is really very useful in SLE.
Here is a picture of a slide from a talk on SLE at the recent EULAR conference. It highlights these benefits and I thought I’d share this (photo is courtesy of Dr Philip Robinson @philipcrobinson).
To help make sense of the slide, here’s the code for the abbreviations:
LN = lupus nephritis
CHB = congenital heart block
With this list of benefits, it really should be used in every patient with SLE unless there’s some good reason not to.