Hydroxychloroquine is not Effective in Relieving Osteoarthritis Hand Pain

Hydroxychloroquine is not effective in relieving osteoarthritis hand pain, according to findings published in Annals of Internal Medicine. An off-label drug used to treat osteoarthritis of the hand found to be no better than placebo, researchers have revealed.


Osteoarthritis of the hand has been estimated to be as high as 78% in men and 99% in women in individuals older than 65 years. It affects up to 31 percent of adults over the age of 70 and up to 15 percent of those over the age of 60. Hydroxychloroquine drug thought to be commonly prescribed by doctors as an off-label alternative but available data on its efficiency is thin.

Researchers from the Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine and NIHR Leeds Biomedical Research Centre conducted a study in which 248 patients with symptomatic and radiographic hand osteoarthritis was involved. They assigned the participants to either hydroxychloroquine or placebo for 12 months with ongoing usual care. They wanted to discover the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine versus placebo as a treatment.

The findings showed that an initial reduction in the severity of pain was found in both of the group’s patients including the group receiving the medication and the group taking the placebo. Hydroxychloroquine is not effective in relieving osteoarthritis hand pain, according to the study.

Dr. Sarah Kingsbury, who led the study, said: “There is increasing evidence that inflammation is a factor in osteoarthritis. So doctors have used hydroxychloroquine off-label, in a way that it was not licensed for, to try and control symptoms and pain. “But until now, there has not been a large-scale study into whether using hydroxychloroquine works. And our evidence shows that for most patients it is not an effective treatment.”



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