Hydroxychloroquine, more commonly referred to by its brand name Plaquenil, is now considered the standard, first-line treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus. According to a report in Rheumatology News, it wasn't always regarded that way. Over the past 15 years or so, plaquenil has gained more respect as a treatment for lupus. Why more respect? It seems the drug has benefits that were not previously recognized.
Studies have shown that plaquenil is associated with the prevention of lupus flares, less damage (including less vascular damage), fewer thrombolic (blood clot) and cardiovascular events, better kidney outcomes, fewer seizures, as well as skin and joint improvement. There is also a possibility that the drug lowers cancer risk in lupus patients -- but that finding is still the subject of debate. There has never been more awareness of its benefits and now it is believed that the longer the drug is used, the better it works.
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