The drug penicillamine is primarily used to treat Wilson's disease (an inherited disorder affecting copper metabolism, causing cirrhosis and brain and eye problems) and rheumatoid arthritis.
When used to treat Wilson's disease, penicillamine works by removing copper from the body. Taking copper supplements while you are using penicillamine for this condition is not a good idea.
Penicillamine might increase the need for vitamin B
Taking 25 to 50 mg of supplemental B
6 daily is often recommended.2
Long-term use of penicillamine can cause zinc deficiency.3 However, zinc can impair penicillamine absorption, so do not take zinc supplements during the 2 hours before or after your penicillamine dose.4
Penicillamine attaches to the mineral iron, which impairs the absorption of both substances.5,6
The solution: If you need iron supplements, do not take them during the 2 hours before or after your penicillamine dose.
Rumsby PC and Shepherd DM. The effect of penicillamine on vitamin B
function in man.
30: 3051–3053, 1981.
Pronsky Z (ed.). Powers and Moore's food medication interactions, 10th ed. Pottstown, PA: Food-Medication Interactions, 1997: 182.
Multicentre Trial Group. Controlled trial of D(-) penicillamine in severe rheumatoid arthritis.
1: 275–280, 1973.
Campbell NR and Hasinoff BB. Iron supplements: a common cause of drug interactions.
Br J Clin Pharmacol
31(3): 251–255, 1991.
Last reviewed September 2014 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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