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Why is this medication prescribed?

Penicillamine is a medication primarily prescribed for certain medical conditions, particularly those related to rheumatoid arthritis and Wilson’s disease. Here’s some information about its uses and how it is typically prescribed:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Penicillamine is used as a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It helps to reduce inflammation and slow down the progression of joint damage.
  • Wilson’s Disease: Wilson’s disease is a rare genetic disorder characterized by the accumulation of copper in various organs, particularly the liver and brain. Penicillamine is used to chelate and remove excess copper from the body.
  • Cystinuria: Penicillamine may also be prescribed for the management of cystinuria, a genetic disorder where high levels of the amino acid cystine can lead to the formation of kidney stones.

How should this medicine be used?

The use of penicillamine should be strictly based on the prescription and guidance of a qualified healthcare professional. Dosage and administration may vary depending on the specific medical condition being treated, the individual’s response to the medication, and other factors. Here are some general guidelines, but they should not replace the advice of a healthcare provider:

  • Dosage: The recommended dosage of penicillamine will be determined by the prescribing healthcare professional based on factors such as the condition being treated, the patient’s weight, age, and overall health. It’s important to take the prescribed dose and not to adjust it without consulting the healthcare provider.
  • Administration: Penicillamine is typically taken on an empty stomach, either one hour before or two hours after meals. This helps enhance its absorption. The tablets or capsules should be swallowed whole with a full glass of water.
  • Timing: It’s important to take penicillamine at the same time(s) every day to maintain a consistent level of the medication in the body.
  • Follow-up Monitoring: Regular monitoring is often required during penicillamine treatment. This may include blood tests to check for potential side effects and to ensure that the medication is effectively managing the medical condition.
  • Other Medications: Inform your healthcare provider about all other medications, supplements, or herbal products you are taking, as they may interact with penicillamine.
  • Adverse Reactions: Be aware of potential side effects and adverse reactions associated with penicillamine. If you experience any unusual symptoms or side effects, contact your healthcare provider promptly.
  • Missed Dose: If a dose is missed, it should be taken as soon as remembered. However, if it is almost time for the next scheduled dose, the missed dose should be skipped, and the regular dosing schedule resumed. It’s important not to double the dose to make up for a missed one.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, inform your healthcare provider. The use of penicillamine during pregnancy and breastfeeding should be carefully considered, and the potential risks and benefits should be discussed with the healthcare provider.

Always follow the specific instructions provided by the healthcare professional who prescribed the medication. If you have any questions or concerns about the use of penicillamine, do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider for clarification and guidance.

Other uses for this medicine

In addition to its primary uses in treating Wilson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, penicillamine may be employed in other medical conditions, although such uses are less common. Some of these include:

  • Cystinuria: Penicillamine may be used to manage cystinuria, a genetic disorder that leads to the formation of kidney stones due to the accumulation of the amino acid cystine in the urine.
  • Scleroderma: In certain cases, penicillamine has been considered for the treatment of scleroderma, a connective tissue disorder. However, the evidence supporting its use in this context is limited.

What special precautions should I follow?

Special precautions should be taken when using penicillamine, and it’s important to discuss these with your healthcare provider. Here are some general precautions and considerations:

  • Allergies: Inform your doctor if you are allergic to penicillamine or any other medications. Allergic reactions can be serious and require immediate medical attention.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Penicillamine may harm an unborn baby, and its use during pregnancy should be carefully considered. It is also known to pass into breast milk, so breastfeeding may need to be avoided.
  • Kidney Stones: Penicillamine can increase the risk of forming kidney stones. Adequate hydration and regular monitoring of kidney function are important to minimize this risk.
  • Blood Disorders: Penicillamine may affect blood cell counts, and regular blood tests are necessary to monitor for any signs of blood disorders.
  • Neurological Effects: Neurological side effects, including myasthenia gravis and other neuromuscular disorders, have been reported with penicillamine use. Report any unusual symptoms to your healthcare provider.
  • Autoimmune Disorders: Penicillamine can alter the immune system, which may lead to the development of autoimmune disorders. Close monitoring is essential.
  • Interactions with Other Medications: Inform your healthcare provider about all the medications, supplements, and herbal products you are taking, as penicillamine may interact with certain drugs.
  • Regular Monitoring: Regular medical check-ups and monitoring of blood and urine parameters are crucial while taking penicillamine. This helps assess the drug’s effectiveness and detect any potential side effects early on.

It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations and report any unusual symptoms or side effects promptly. Never stop or adjust the dosage of penicillamine without consulting your healthcare professional.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

  • Empty Stomach: Penicillamine is usually taken on an empty stomach, either one hour before or two hours after meals, to enhance its absorption.
  • Calcium and Zinc: Avoid taking penicillamine with foods or supplements high in calcium or zinc, as they may reduce its absorption. If you need to take calcium or zinc supplements, separate them from penicillamine by at least 2 hours.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

  • Missed Dose: If you forget to take a dose of penicillamine, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule.
  • Double Dosing: Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. Taking more than the prescribed amount can increase the risk of side effects.
  • Consult Your Healthcare Provider: If you have questions about missed doses or if you are unsure about what to do, contact your healthcare provider for guidance.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Penicillamine, like any medication, can cause side effects. It’s important to be aware of potential side effects and promptly report any unusual symptoms to your healthcare provider. Common side effects, as well as more serious ones, may occur. Here is a list of possible side effects associated with penicillamine:

Common Side Effects:

  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite are common gastrointestinal side effects.
  • Skin Reactions: Rash and itching may occur.
  • Metallic Taste: Some people may experience a metallic taste in the mouth.
  • Decreased White Blood Cell Count: Penicillamine can reduce the number of white blood cells, increasing the risk of infection.
  • Proteinuria: Increased protein levels in the urine may occur.
  • Elevated Liver Enzymes: Liver enzyme levels may be elevated in some individuals.

Serious Side Effects:

  • Severe Skin Reactions: Rare but serious skin reactions, such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis, may occur.
  • Myasthenia Gravis: Penicillamine can exacerbate or induce symptoms of myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disorder.
  • Bone Marrow Suppression: Penicillamine may suppress bone marrow function, leading to a decrease in blood cell counts.
  • Renal Disorders: Kidney problems, including nephrotic syndrome and renal impairment, have been reported.
  • Autoimmune Disorders: Penicillamine can induce autoimmune disorders, such as lupus-like syndrome.
  • Neurological Effects: Neurological side effects, including seizures, peripheral neuropathy, and myopathy, have been reported.
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis: Rare cases of pulmonary fibrosis, a serious lung condition, have been associated with penicillamine use.
  • Hematologic Disorders: Rare cases of aplastic anemia and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) have been reported.

It’s important to note that the occurrence and severity of side effects can vary among individuals. Regular monitoring, including blood tests and clinical evaluations, is typically performed during penicillamine therapy to detect and manage potential complications.

If you experience any concerning symptoms or side effects while taking penicillamine, contact your healthcare provider immediately. It’s crucial not to discontinue the medication or adjust the dosage without consulting your healthcare professional, as abrupt changes can have adverse effects. The decision to use penicillamine and the management of its side effects should be closely supervised by a qualified healthcare provider.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Storage and Disposal of Penicillamine:

  • Storage:
    • Store penicillamine in a tightly closed container at room temperature, away from moisture and direct sunlight.
    • Keep the medication out of reach of children and pets.
  • Disposal:
    • Dispose of expired or unused medication properly, following local regulations or guidelines.
    • Do not flush medications down the toilet unless instructed to do so. Check with your pharmacist or local waste disposal facility for guidance on proper disposal.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of an overdose or emergency, contact your local poison control center (1-800-222-1222 in the United States) or seek emergency medical attention immediately. Symptoms of an overdose may include severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, blood in the urine, and other serious side effects. Provide the healthcare professionals with as much information as possible, including the amount of penicillamine ingested and the time it was taken.

What other information should I know?

  • Follow-Up Appointments: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider. Regular monitoring is crucial to assess the medication’s effectiveness and detect any potential side effects.
  • Laboratory Tests: Be prepared for regular blood and urine tests to monitor your condition and assess the impact of penicillamine on various parameters.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Limit or avoid alcohol consumption while taking penicillamine, as it may increase the risk of certain side effects.
  • Inform Healthcare Providers: Inform all healthcare providers involved in your care that you are taking penicillamine. This includes dentists, surgeons, and other specialists.
  • Inform about Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, inform your healthcare provider. The use of penicillamine during pregnancy and breastfeeding requires careful consideration.
  • Avoid Self-Medication: Do not change the dosage or stop taking penicillamine without consulting your healthcare provider. Follow the prescribed treatment plan.
  • Patient Education: Understand the potential side effects of penicillamine and report any unusual symptoms to your healthcare provider promptly.

Always consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist for specific guidance based on your individual medical condition and the prescribed medication. The information provided here is a general guideline and may not cover all possible situations.

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