Drugs used to treat malaria may be useful for patients with lupus, a chronic debilitating "autoimmune" disease, according to according to a new report. In fact, the authors of the study, in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, recommend that doctors give the drugs to all patients with lupus.
Doctors first realized decades ago that antimalarial drugs such as hydroxychloroquine
could be used to treat the joint pain often seen in lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. Since then, research has suggested that antimalarial therapy can help prevent flare-ups of lupus and reduce overall damage from the disease, Dr. Bernardo A. Pons-Estel, from Hospital Provincial de Rosario, Argentina, and co-researchers note.
After the team accounted for various factors, using antimalarial drugs appeared to reduce the risk of death during the study by almost 40 percent.
"The data presented, taken in conjunction with the data from the published literature, suggest that antimalarials should be used in all lupus patients regardless of their disease manifestation or disease duration," the authors conclude.