Compare chloroquine vs. Plaquenil

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

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chloroquine

Prescription only
Prevents and treats malaria, and also treats a type of bowel infection.

Effectively prevents and treats malaria, and treats a certain type of intestinal infection but can cause serious side effects in certain people.

Treats malaria and autoimmune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) is an effective medication for autoimmune conditions and malaria that comes with less side effects than other DMARDs.

Upsides
  • chloroquine is generally safe to use during pregnancy and for children.
  • You can take chloroquine with or without food.
  • Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) has been shown to improve physical function in up to 80% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) is commonly used for lupus in children because of less side effects compared to other medications.
  • Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) helps minimize joint damage. It can also decrease symptoms and future complications.
  • Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) is a good choice for people who have difficulty tolerating newer biologic medications.
  • A generic form of Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) is available.
Downsides
  • chloroquine needs to be taken 1-2 weeks before traveling to an area with malaria, compared to some alternatives that can be taken 1-2 days before.
  • chloroquine is only effective against malaria from certain areas of the world.
  • chloroquine may worsen psoriasis, seizures, hearing problems, and liver conditions.
  • You will likely have to take additional medications to keep your rheumatoid arthritis in control.
  • Some people may develop eye problems, so you’ll have to get your eyes checked often.
  • Depending on what you're being treated for, it can take up to 6 months for the full benefits of Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine).
  • Many people have nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea when they first start taking Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine).
  • If you have heart, eye, liver conditions, or psoriasis, talk to your doctor to see if Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) is right for you.
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Reviews
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Side effects
The chloroquine FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Heart problems
    • Heart problems
  • Muscle weakness
    • Long-term use
  • Low blood counts
    • G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency
  • Eye injury
    • Taking high dose of chloroquine
    • Long-term use
    • Taking tamoxifen
    • Low body weight
    • Kidney problems
  • Liver damage
    • Taking other drugs that affect the liver
    • Alcoholism
    • Liver conditions
  • Hearing damage
    • History of hearing problems
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Prescribing by Doctors
  • Drug resistance
  • Worsening of psoriasis
  • Pregnancy
    • Women of childbearing age
  • Damage to retina of eye
    • Higher doses
    • Kidney disease
    • Use for longer than 5 years
    • Current problems with vision
    • Use of certain drugs such as tamoxifen
  • Heart problems
    • Taking other medicines that cause disruptions in heart rhythm
    • Existing heart conditions
See more detailed risks and warnings