The efficacy of antimalarials in systemic lupus erythematosus

V Nayak, J M Esdaile
Lupus 1996, 5: S23-7
The use of antimalarial drugs to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is receiving increased attention. A retrospective controlled study suggested that antimalarials were useful in suppressing disease activity in SLE. A randomized discontinuation trial of hydroxychloroquine sulphate supported the clinical belief that antimalarials are of benefit in SLE of mild to moderate disease activity and might have a role as adjunctive therapy to protect against more severe relapses of SLE. A randomized trial of the ability of hydroxychloroquine sulphate to suppress articular manifestations of SLE demonstrated no consistent statistically significant benefit, although the sample size was small. Anecdotal reports and the experience of expert clinicians have suggested a corticosteroid sparing role for antimalarials, although no controlled study has been conducted to specifically address this hypothesis. Thus, the evidence favors a role for antimalarials in suppressing mild to moderate disease activity in SLE and possibly in preventing severe disease exacerbations. Their role as corticosteroid sparing agents in SLE is widely believed, but unproven.

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