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As early as the 17th century, Quinine was determined to be one of the first effective treatments for falciparum malaria. Quinine is available with a prescription in the United States. Quinine is also used to treat nocturnal leg cramps and arthritis. Quinine is a bitter white powder that is obtained from the bark of the cinchona tree that is found in the Andes mountain range of Ecuador and Peru and is used to make tonic water.

Why is Quinine prescribed?

Quinine is used to treat malaria. Although it is often prescribed, the FDA has not approved quinine to treat nocturnal leg cramps and arthritis.

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What are the FDA approved uses for Quinine?

Due to fatalities resulting from unapproved quinine products, as of 2007, only one drug containing quinine sulfate as the active ingredient without any additional active ingredients, Qualaquin, is FDA approved for the treatment of malaria.

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What are the side effects of Quinine?

Contact your doctor if these side effects persist:

  • stomach pain
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • sweating
  • restlessness
  • confusion
  • apprehension

Contact your physician immediately if you experience any of the following side effects while taking quinine:

  • skin rash
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling of the face
  • fever
  • vision problems or changes
  • difficulty hearing or ringing in the ears
  • faintness
  • easy bruising
  • unusual bleeding
  • sore throat
  • fast heartbeat
  • chest pain

Also, tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to quinine, quinidine (e.g., Quinidex), or to dietary items that contain quinine, such as tonic water or bitter lemon. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as foods, preservatives, or dyes.

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Quinine warnings and alerts

The FDA has issued serious safety alerts and concerns, including fatalities, associated with drug products containing quinine. Other documented warnings for symptoms include tinnitus, dizziness, disorientation, nausea, visual changes, and auditory deficits.

There is also evidence that quinine causes serious cardiac arrhythmias including torsades de pointes. People taking quinine are at risk of developing hypersensitivity to the drug and experiencing a serious, life-threatening, or fatal reaction as a consequence. Serious adverse reactions associated with quinine use also include severe skin reactions, thrombocytopenia (a decrease in blood platelets that can cause hemorrhage or clotting problems) and other serious hematological events including permanent visual and hearing disturbances, hypoglycemia, renal failure and generalized anaphylaxis.

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Quinine drug contradictions

Quinine is not recommended for use with Mefloquine (e.g., Lariam). Although Quinine has been used for the treatment of malaria in pregnant women, it has been shown to cause birth defects in rabbits and guinea pigs and has also been shown to cause rare birth defects, stillbirths, and other problems in humans. In addition, quinine has been shown to cause miscarriage when taken in large amounts.

Those suffering from the following conditions should not take Quinine: Blackwater fever, Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency or Purpura, history of (purplish or brownish-red discoloration of skin), heart disease, hypoglycemia and Myasthenia gravis.

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Quinine FAQs

Why did the FDA pull Quinine products from the market?

The FDA has gathered dangerous statistics revealing fatalities caused by quinine. From 1969 through September 11, 2006, FDA received 665 reports of adverse events with serious outcomes associated with quinine use, including, 93 deaths. The FDA discovered that many of the adverse events associated with quinine were not caused by the drug itself, but were dose-related. Also many of the adverse events were attributed to age-related issues more commonly seen in the elderly.

Tonic water contains Quinine, is it still safe to drink?

Tonic water contains less than 20 milligrams of quinine per six fluid ounces. The recommended quinine dosage for treatment of malaria is two or three 200-350 milligram tablets three times a day. Because of its small doses in tonic water, it is considered harmless and has not been recalled by the FDA.

Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Quinine?

Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Emotional distress

If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Quinine, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Quinine lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.

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