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Very low blood hydroxychloroquine concentration as an objective marker of poor adherence to treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus
  1. Nathalie Costedoat-Chalumeau1,
  2. Zahir Amoura1,
  3. Jean-Sébastien Hulot2,
  4. Guy Aymard2,
  5. Gaëlle Leroux1,
  6. Donata Marra1,
  7. Philippe Lechat2,
  8. Jean-Charles Piette1
  1. 1AP-HP, Service de Médecine Interne, Centre de Référence National pour le Lupus Systémique et le Syndrome des Antiphospholipides, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France
  2. 2AP-HP, Service de Pharmacologie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr N Costedoat-Chalumeau
    AP-HP, Service de Médecine Interne, Centre de Référence National pour le Lupus Systémique et le Syndrome des Antiphospholipides, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Pitié-Salpêtrière, 47–83 Boulevard de l’Hôpital, 75651 Paris Cedex 13, France; nathalie.costedoat{at}psl.aphp.fr

Abstract

Background: Poor adherence to treatment is difficult to diagnose accurately. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has a long elimination half-life and its concentration in whole blood can be measured easily.

Objective: To evaluate the utility of a very low blood HCQ concentration as a marker of poor compliance in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods: HCQ concentrations were determined on a blinded basis in 203 unselected patients with SLE. At the end of the study, the patients were informed of the results and retrospectively interviewed about their adherence to treatment.

Results: 14 (7%) patients said that they had stopped taking HCQ (n = 8) or had taken it no more than once or twice a week (n = 6). Their mean (SD) HCQ concentration was 26 (46) ng/ml. range (0–129 ng/ml) By contrast, the other patients had a mean HCQ concentration of 1079 ng/ml range (205–2629 ng/ml). The principal barriers to adherence were related to HCQ treatment characteristics. Adherence subsequently improved in 10 of the 12 patients whose blood HCQ concentrations were remeasured.

Conclusions: Very low whole-blood HCQ concentrations are an objective marker of prolonged poor compliance in patients with SLE. Regular drug assays might help doctors in detect non-compliance and serve as a basis for counselling and supporting these patients.

  • HCQ, Hydroxychloroquine
  • SLE, systemic lupus erythematosus
  • SLEDAI, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index

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Footnotes

  • Published Online First 23 February 2007

  • Competing interests: None.

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