What is hydroxychloroquine and why do different versions matter?
Hydroxychloroquine is generally the first line of treatment for someone who has been diagnosed with lupus. It is used for skin and joint involvement, muscle inflammation, fever, fatigue, pleurisy, to reduce the development of renal (kidney) disease and chronic damage, and for its steroid-sparing properties. It is one of the few licensed drugs for lupus and there is good evidence for its efficacy and safety.
There are a few different versions of hydroxychloroquine available in the UK – every version includes the same amount of the active ingredient hydroxychloroquine, but may have different ‘fillers’, which are inactive substances used to make the tablet bigger or easier to process. There isn’t one particular manufacturer’s version which is ‘best’, as all people with lupus may react to medications to differently, so it’s important to find a version that suits you.
You can find more information about hydroxychloroquine and the range of manufacturer versions in our article HERE.
What is happening with the supply of Bristol Labs hydroxychloroquine (Quinoric)?
Some people have been reporting that they are not able to get Quinoric at their local pharmacy.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the organisation in the UK that makes sure any medicine or medical equipment works and is safe to use. In November 2023, they partially suspended Bristol Labs’ license until 12th August 2024. The reason for the partial suspension is not clear and it is also not clear whether hydroxychloroquine is included in the suspension.
We have contacted Bristol Labs and will update this page with more information when we are able.
What should I do if I need Quinoric and I can’t get any?
You could try another version of hydroxychloroquine, as which versions people are able to tolerate can vary. Some people who usually take Quinoric have reported on our patient forum that they have been able to tolerate IPCA as an alternative, while others have found they can tolerate Zentiva or Blackrock. However, people with lupus respond to drugs differently – a particular version may not necessarily be more suitable for any given individual.
If you are unable to tolerate any other versions, then we would recommend speaking to your rheumatologist or prescribing clinician about what may be the best option for you until Quinoric comes back into stock. Some rheumatology departments have a patient helpline which can be a good way of speaking to a specialist nurse before your next appointment.
We will update this page when we have any further information or advice.