Penicillamine is used to treat severe and active rheumatoid arthritis, Wilson’s disease (excess copper levels in the body) and cystinuria (excess concentration of the amino acid, cystine, in the urine). Penicillamine belongs to a group of medicines called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Penicillamine is also classified as a chelating (metal-binding) agent. Penicillamine may also be used to treat other conditions as determined by your doctor.

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What is Penicillamine used for?

Penicillamine is used to treat severe and active rheumatoid arthritis (autoimmune disease) in patients who have not responded to conventional therapy. Penicillamine belongs to a group of medicines called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Penicillamine is an immunosuppressant that works by suppressing the activity of the immune system and this helps decrease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis such as pain and swelling.

Penicillamine is also classified as a chelating (metal-binding) agent and is used to remove excess copper levels in patients with Wilson’s disease, a genetic disorder. In the treatment of Wilson’s disease, Penicillamine works by binding to accumulated copper in the body and eliminating it through urine. By reducing copper levels, Penicillamine helps improve the liver function and other conditions caused by the disease such as nerve and mental problems.

Penicillamine is also used to reduce the excretion of cystine in patients with a metabolic disorder known as cystinuria. By decreasing the concentration of cystine in the urine, Penicillamine helps prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Penicillamine may also be used to treat other conditions as determined by your doctor.

What are the side effects of Penicillamine?

Like other medicines, Penicillamine can cause some side effects. If they do occur, the side effects of Penicillamine are most likely to be minor and temporary. However, some may be serious and may require the individual to inform the doctor or visit the nearest hospital immediately.

It is pertinent to note that side effects of Penicillamine cannot be anticipated. If any side effects of Penicillamine develop or change in intensity, the doctor should be informed as soon as possible.

Penicillamine can cause side effects such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, loss of taste, weight loss, mouth sores, skin rash and wrinkling of the skin. This is not a complete list of all side effects. Do concur with your doctor and follow his directions completely when you are taking Penicillamine.

What is the recommended dosage of Penicillamine?

The dosage of Penicillamine prescribed to each patient will vary. Always follow your physician’s instructions and/or the directions on the prescription drug label.

Take Penicillamine on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after full meals. Also, allow an interval of at least 1 hour between taking Penicillamine and other drugs containing iron, zinc, aluminum and magnesium (antacids).

What if you miss a dose of Penicillamine?

If your physician has instructed or directed you to take Penicillamine medication in a regular schedule and you have missed a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, then skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double the doses to catch up for the missed dose.

What if you overdose on Penicillamine?

Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose of Penicillamine, seek medical attention immediately.

What other drugs could interact with Penicillamine?

It may be noted that drugs other than those listed above may also interact with Penicillamine.

Penicillamine can interact with the following types of medicines: antimalarial medicines, gold-therapy products and cancer chemotherapy medicines.

Usually drug interactions occur when it is taken with another drug or with food. Before you take a medication for a particular ailment, you should inform the health expert about intake of any other medications including non-prescription medications (over-the-counter products) and dietary supplements like vitamins, minerals and herbal, which may increase the effect of Penicillamine, so that the doctor can warn you of any possible drug interactions.

Do let your doctor know if you smoke, consume alcohol or caffeinated drinks, or use illegal drugs as these may interfere with the action of your medication. Make sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions you may have, or any family history of medical problems. Do not start or stop using any medicine without consulting your doctor.

What are the questions to ask your doctor before taking Penicillamine?

Is it possible for me to take Penicillamine with other drugs?
Should certain beverages, foods and other products be avoided when I take Penicillamine?
What are the possible drug interactions of Penicillamine?
How will Penicillamine work in my body?
How should Penicillamine be taken?
How to reduce the risk of Penicillamine drug interactions and side effects?


What other important information should you know about Penicillamine?

  • Before taking Penicillamine, make sure to tell your doctor if you have kidney disease and blood/bone marrow disorders.
  • Also, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding.
  • Store Penicillamine capsules at room temperature away from heat and moisture.


The health and medical information provided here is intended to supplement and not substitute for the expertise and judgment of your physician, pharmacists or other health care professional. It should not be understood to indicate that the use of Penicillamine is safe, appropriate or effective for you. Always consult your health care professional before using this or any other drug.