Hydroxychloroquine Deemed Safe for People Newly Diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus  

August 24, 2022 (Vancouver) – Arthritis Research Canada scientists found no increased risk of irregular heartbeat (known as arrhythmia), among new users of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, also known as plaquenil, to manage rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Previous studies have suggested a link between hydroxychloroquine and the risk of an irregular heartbeat. To get a more accurate picture, a team of Arthritis Research Canada researchers conducted a large population-based study to investigate the association between hydroxychloroquine and risk of an irregular heartbeat among people who are newly diagnosed with RA and SLE.

“These results increase confidence for health care providers when treating people with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, knowing that hydroxychloroquine can be used safely and effectively to help manage these diseases,” said Rashedul Hoque, research trainee at Arthritis Research Canada and lead researcher in this study.

Hydroxychloroquine is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). It is used in the treatment of arthritis as it works with the immune system to prevent inflammation, joint damage, and other complications. Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat arthritis, such as RA, SLE, psoriatic arthritis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and is typically taken in combination with other drugs.

These important findings were presented at the June 2022 European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) Congress in Copenhagen, including more than 18,000 delegates from over 130 countries.

To learn more about this research, please click here.



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Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is leading a team of over 100 researchers, trainees and staff whose world recognized research is creating a future where people living with arthritis are empowered to triumph over pain and disability. Arthritis Research Canada is conducting research across Canada in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec and is affiliated with five major universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Université Laval, and McGill University. Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at arthritis prevention, early diagnosis, new and better treatment, and improved quality of life.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Heather Caulder
Marketing and Communications Officer
604-207-4010 or hcaulder@arthritisresearch.ca

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