Qualaquin is prescribed to treat malaria, a disease commonly caused by mosquito bites. Malaria is common in areas such as Africa, South America and southern Asia. Although the FDA has warned against this use, Qualaquin has been prescribed to treat nighttime leg cramps or restless leg syndrome (RLS) as well. In 2006, the FDA banned all forms of the drug except for Qualaquin, the brand name for quinine.

Off-label uses of this drug have been studied and the FDA has found that side effects that could occur from taking Qualaquin are much riskier than the disorders they have been used to treat (ex. RLS). Qualaquin has been linked to several dangerous drug disorders such as thrombocytopenia and hemolytic uremic syndrome. These disorders can cause severe bleeding or irreversible kidney damage. Between 2005 and 2008, there were 38 reports of negative reactions to Qualaquin—18 cases required hospitalization and two patients died from complications related to the drug. Of these patients, only one of them was taking Qualaquin for the intended use of treating malaria.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Fever, chills, confusion, weakness, sweating
  • Severe vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea
  • Problems with vision or hearing
  • Chest pain, trouble breathing, severe dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeats
  • Severe flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling)
  • Urinating less than usual or not at all
  • Weak or shallow breathing, feeling like you might pass out
  • Easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin
  • Blood in your urine or stools
  • Fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash
  • Loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Headache, blurred vision, changes in color vision
  • Mild dizziness, spinning sensation, ringing in your ears
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle weakness
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