NOT USED FOR COVID-19
Hydroxychloroquine, the active drug in Plaquenil, is not recommended for use in treating COVID-19 (the illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2). Do not take any prescription drug, including Plaquenil, unless your doctor recommends that you do so.
For information about how to prepare, advice on prevention and treatment, and expert recommendations, visit our coronavirus hub.
Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) is a prescription medication. Your doctor might suggest Plaquenil to:
- treat or prevent certain types of malaria in adults and some children
- treat certain types of lupus in adults
- treat rheumatoid arthritis in adults
Plaquenil belongs to a group of drugs called antimalarials. It comes as a 200-milligram (mg) tablet that you swallow.
This article describes the dosages of Plaquenil, as well as its form, strength, and how to take the drug. To learn more about Plaquenil, see this in-depth article.
Note: This article covers Plaquenil’s typical dosages, which are provided by the drug’s manufacturer. But when using Plaquenil, always take the dosage that your doctor prescribes.
This section provides information about the usual dosages of Plaquenil.
Plaquenil’s strength and form: 200-mg tablet
Plaquenil comes as a 200-milligram (mg) tablet, or pill, that you swallow.
What are the typical dosages of Plaquenil?
Your doctor may adjust your dosage over time to reach the right amount for you. They’ll ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.
The information below describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. But be sure to take the dosage that your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
Dosage for lupus
Plaquenil is used to treat certain types of lupus in adults.
For lupus, you’ll take 200 mg to 400 mg of Plaquenil per day.
Depending on your prescribed dosage, you may need to take the drug once or twice each day. If your doctor prescribes a dosage of 200 mg per day, you’ll take a single daily dose of the drug. If your doctor prescribes a dosage of 400 mg per day, you’ll take either 400 mg once daily or 200 mg twice daily.
If you have questions about your dosage of Plaquenil for lupus, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Dosage for RA
Plaquenil is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in adults.
To treat RA, the starting dosage is typically 400 mg to 600 mg of Plaquenil per day. You may need to take the drug once or twice each day. The starting dosage will likely involve a higher dose of Plaquenil than what you’ll eventually take. This is known as a loading dose, and it helps the drug start working more quickly.
You may notice an improvement in your RA symptoms within a few weeks or months. Your doctor will then likely recommend lowering your Plaquenil dosage to a maintenance dosage (long-term dosage). If you have bothersome side effects when you’re taking the starting dosage, your doctor will likely switch you to a lower dose sooner.
For RA, you’ll take a maintenance dosage of 200 mg to 400 mg of Plaquenil per day. Depending on your prescription, you may need to take the drug once or twice each day. If your doctor prescribes a dosage of 200 mg per day, you’ll take it a single daily dose of Plaquenil. If your doctor prescribes a dosage of 400 mg per day, you’ll take either 400 mg once daily or 200 mg twice daily.
If you have questions about your dosage of Plaquenil for RA, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Dosage for malaria in adults
Plaquenil is used to treat or prevent certain types of malaria.
To prevent malaria, you’ll likely take Plaquenil once per week. You’ll start the treatment 2 weeks before traveling to an area where malaria is active. The recommended dose for this use is 400 mg. You’ll continue taking this dose once per week while you travel and for 4 weeks after you leave the area where malaria is active. You should take your dose on the same day each week.
To treat certain types of malaria, you’ll take a total of 2,000 mg of Plaquenil according to the following dosing schedule:
- You’ll take one 800-mg dose to start.
- You’ll take 400-mg doses at 6 hours, 24 hours, and 48 hours after your first dose.
If you have questions about your dosage of Plaquenil for malaria, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
What’s the dosage of Plaquenil for children?
Plaquenil is approved to treat or prevent certain types of malaria in children who weigh at least 31 kilograms (kg), or about 68 pounds.
A doctor will calculate your child’s dosage based on their body weight in kg. To prevent malaria, the recommended pediatric dosage is 6.5 mg/kg once per week, up to a maximum of 400 mg.
For preventive treatment, you’ll give your child Plaquenil 2 weeks before traveling to an area where malaria is active. Continue giving your child their once-weekly dose while you’re traveling and for 4 weeks after leaving the area where malaria is active. Your child should have their dose on the same day each week.
To treat certain types of malaria, your child’s doctor will likely prescribe a short-term treatment of Plaquenil. The first dose is usually 13 mg/kg, with a maximum dose of 800 mg. Then your child will take doses of 6.5 mg/kg at 6 hours, 24 hours, and 48 hours after the first dose.
Note that Plaquenil isn’t approved for any purpose in children other than treating or preventing malaria. If you have questions about your child’s dosage of Plaquenil for these purposes, talk with your doctor.
Is Plaquenil used long term?
Plaquenil can be used as a short-term or long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Plaquenil is safe and effective for your lupus or RA, you’ll likely take it long term.
If you have liver or kidney problems, be sure to tell your doctor before starting Plaquenil treatment. Your liver and kidneys are important for breaking down medications and removing them from your body. If you have liver or kidney problems, your doctor may prescribe a lower dosage of Plaquenil for you.
Below are answers to some common questions about Plaquenil dosage.
What’s the best time of day to take Plaquenil?
If you take Plaquenil once daily, there’s no best time of day to take it. But you should take it at about the same time each day. And it’s recommended that you take your dose with food or milk.
If you take Plaquenil twice daily, you can take one dose in the morning and one in the evening. Try to take your doses at around the same times each day. And you should have food or milk with your Plaquenil doses.
Is there a dosage calculator I can use to figure out my child’s dosage according to their weight (mg/kg)?
Rather than try to calculate the dosage of Plaquenil for your child, it’s best to follow their doctor’s recommendations. They will determine the right dosage based on your child’s body weight in kilograms (kg). They’ll also factor in whether the drug is being used to treat or prevent malaria.
To figure out your child’s weight in kilograms, the doctor will divide the child’s weight in pounds by 2.2. Then they’ll multiply this value by the appropriate amount of milligrams per kg (mg/kg) to come up with a dosage. For details, see “What’s the dosage of Plaquenil for children?” under the “What is Plaquenil’s dosage?” section above.
Will reducing my Plaquenil dosage cause side effects?
It’s not likely. Reducing your Plaquenil dosage shouldn’t cause side effects. But if you have lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, it could possibly cause the symptoms of your condition to return or get worse.
You shouldn’t reduce or adjust your dosage of Plaquenil without discussing it with your doctor. They’ll listen to your concerns and make suggestions based on your condition.
What is the usual dosage of Plaquenil for someone who’s pregnant?
There isn’t a specific dosage of Plaquenil recommended for a person who’s pregnant. It isn’t known if it’s safe to take Plaquenil during pregnancy. If you have questions about taking Plaquenil while pregnant, discuss them with your doctor.
Don’t use more Plaquenil than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects.
Symptoms of overdose
Symptoms caused by an overdose can be life threatening and may include:
- heart problems, such as heart attack or heart rhythm problems
- very low blood pressure
- decreased level of potassium in the blood
- vision problems or vision loss
What to do in case you take too much Plaquenil
Call your doctor right away if you think you’ve taken too much Plaquenil. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers, or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.
The dosage of Plaquenil you’re prescribed may depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re using Plaquenil to treat
- your age
- other conditions you may have, such as liver or kidney problems (see “Dosage adjustments” under the “What is Plaquenil’s dosage?” section above)
Plaquenil come as a tablet that you’ll swallow whole. You shouldn’t crush or cut Plaquenil tablets.
It’s recommended that you take each dose with food or milk.
Depending on the dosage that your doctor prescribes, you may take the drug either once or twice each day. It’s best to take your doses at around the same times each day.
If you miss a dose of Plaquenil, you should talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They’ll advise you about what your next steps should be.
If you need help remembering to take your dose of Plaquenil on time, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm, downloading a reminder app, or setting a timer on your phone. A kitchen timer can work, too.
The sections above describe the typical dosages provided by Plaquenil’s manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Plaquenil for you, they’ll prescribe the dosage that’s right for you.
Remember, you shouldn’t change your dosage of Plaquenil without your doctor’s recommendation. Only take Plaquenil exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your current dosage.
Here are some examples of questions that you may want to ask your doctor:
- Should my dosage of Plaquenil change if it isn’t working well enough for me?
- Does my dosage of Plaquenil need to change if I start taking any new medication with it?
- How long will I need to take Plaquenil for my condition?
- Would a different dosage raise my risk of side effects from Plaquenil?
If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and want to get tips for managing your condition, sign up for Healthline’s RA newsletter.
For rheumatoid arthritis, I’ve taken 400 milligrams of Plaquenil once per day for the past 3 months. But the drug doesn’t seem to be easing my symptoms. Should I give it more time to work, or ask my doctor about a higher dosage or different treatment option?Anonymous
You should let your doctor know how you’re feeling. They’ll be able to discuss your situation and your dosage with you.
There are a few options your doctor may recommend. These can include considering other treatments for your specific symptoms. They may also suggest dividing your Plaquenil dose and taking it twice per day instead of once per day.Dena Westphalen, PharmDAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.