This medication is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Wilson's disease (a condition in which high levels of copper in the body cause damage to the liver, brain, and other organs), and a certain disorder which causes kidney stones (cystinuria). For the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, penicillamine is known as a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD). It helps to decrease pain/tenderness/swelling in the joints. For the treatment of Wilson's disease, penicillamine binds to copper and helps it to be removed from the body. Decreasing copper levels helps to improve liver function and the mental/mood/nerve problems (such as confusion, difficulty speaking/walking) caused by the disease. For the treatment of cystinuria, penicillamine helps to decrease the amount of a certain substance (cystine) in the urine which can cause kidney stones.
This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.
This drug may also be used for lead poisoning.
How to Use This Medication
Take this medication by mouth on an empty stomach (1 hour before or 2 hours after meals) as directed by your doctor. Take this medication at least 1 hour apart from other drugs (especially antacids), milk, or food.
Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day.
Your doctor may also direct you to take vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and iron. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully. If you need to take iron or other products that contain minerals (such as zinc), take it at least 2 hours before or after taking penicillamine. Consult your doctor before taking any products containing minerals since they may block the absorption of penicillamine.
For the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, it may take 2 to 3 months before you see any improvement in your condition.
For the treatment of Wilson's disease, follow the diet recommended by your doctor to get the most benefit from this medication. Your condition may not improve for 1 to 3 months and may actually get worse when you start this medication. Tell your doctor right away if your condition continues to worsen after a month of treatment.
For the treatment of cystinuria, follow the diet recommended by your doctor to get the most benefit from this medication. Drink plenty of water unless your doctor directs you otherwise.
Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.