Antimalarial drug toxicities in patients with cutaneous lupus and dermatomyositis: A retrospective cohort study

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Although existing evidence demonstrates the efficacy of antimalarials for rheumatic skin disease, the safety of these medications, and particularly quinacrine, remains debated.


We investigated the toxicity risk associated with antimalarials in patients with cutaneous lupus erythematosus and dermatomyositis.


A total of 532 patients (mean age, 52.29 years; sample composition by sex, 85.15% female vs 14.85% male) were selected from 2 databases on cutaneous lupus erythematosus (69.92%) and dermatomyositis (30.08%). Details regarding treatment and toxicities were extracted and 5 treatment courses were defined (ie, hydroxychloroquine [HCQ], chloroquine [CQ], quinacrine [Q], HCQ-Q combination therapy [HCQ-Q], and CQ-Q combination therapy [CQ-Q]). The hazard ratio for each major toxicity was estimated by using the Cox proportional hazard model to compare the different treatments with HCQ.


The most common toxicities included cutaneous eruption, gastrointestinal upset, mucocutaneous dyspigmentation, neurologic toxicity, and retinopathy. The hazards of cutaneous eruption, gastrointestinal upset, and neurologic toxicities were lower with HCQ-Q than with HCQ; however, this may represent selection bias. Although there was increased retinopathy risk with CQ and CQ-Q versus with HCQ, retinopathy was not seen with Q.


Retrospective analysis.


With the exception of retinopathy, which was not seen with Q, the risks for other toxicities associated with Q monotherapy or combination treatment were not significantly different from those with HCQ.

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