Penicillamine is given orally, in capsule or tablet
How It Works
Penicillamine reduces inflammation from
rheumatoid arthritis and slows progression of the
disease. Penicillamine is a substance that normally is used to bind and remove
metals and toxic chemicals from the blood.
Why It Is Used
Penicillamine may be used when
rheumatoid arthritis is not controlled by other medicines. Rheumatologists do
not usually give penicillamine as a first treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
since methotrexate and other DMARDs are available.
can be used by people with penicillin allergies. But talk to your doctor before taking any other medicines while also taking
How Well It Works
A recent review reports that
treatment with penicillamine for about 6 months reduces rheumatoid arthritis
activity and joint inflammation. But common and sometimes serious side effects
limit its use.1
Penicillamine may cause birth defects and
is not used during pregnancy.
Serious side effects from
- Serious infection.
- Low blood
- Inflammation in the pancreas, causing abdominal
- Serious skin rash.
- Excessive bleeding or
- Muscle weakness (due to
myasthenia gravis or
- Protein loss in the
If you experience any of the above serious side effects,
contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention
Less serious side effects may include:
- Itchy skin rash.
- Reduced or changed
sense of taste.
- Sores in the mouth.
diarrhea, or decreased appetite.
- Decreased sense of smell.
Rare side effects include:
- Kidney problems.
- Low blood
In extremely rare cases, this drug triggers
autoimmune disorders, such as
See Drug Reference for a full list
of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Penicillamine may be more toxic
than other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as
methotrexate, and it should be used only under the supervision of a specialist
in joint disease (rheumatologist) who is familiar with its side
Regular blood tests are needed
while taking this medicine.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Walker-Bone K, Fallow S (2007). Rheumatoid arthritis,
search date June 2005. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence. Also available online: