Classifications: antimalarial;
Therapeutic: antimalarial

Prototype: Chloroquine
Pregnancy Category: C


25 mg tablets


Long-acting folic acid antagonist. Selectively inhibits action of dehydrofolic reductase in parasites with resulting blockade of folic acid metabolism.

Therapeutic Effect

No gametocidal activity but prevents development of fertilized gametes in the mosquito and thus helps to prevent transmission of malaria.


Prophylaxis of malaria due to susceptible strains of plasmodia. May be used conjointly with fast-acting antimalarial (e.g., chloroquine, quinacrine, quinine) to initiate transmission control and suppressive cure. Used with a sulfonamide to provide synergistic action in treatment of toxoplasmosis.


Chloroguanide-resistant malaria; hypersensitivity to sulfonamides; megaloblastic anemia caused by folate deficiency; children <2 mo; pregnancy (category C).

Cautious Use

Convulsive disorders; asthma; bone marrow suppression; folate deficiency; hepatic disease; renal disease.

Route & Dosage

Malaria Chemoprophylaxis
Adult: PO 25 mg once/wk
Child: PO <4 y, 6.25 mg once/wk; 4–10 y, 12.5 mg once/wk; >10 y, 25 mg once/wk

Adult: PO 50–75 mg/d with a sulfonamide for 1–3 wk, then decrease dose by half and continue for 1 mo
Child: PO 1 mg/kg/d divided into 2 doses with a sulfonamide for 1–3 wk, then decrease to 0.5 mg/kg/d for 1 mo (max: 25 mg/d)


  • Minimize GI distress by giving with meals. If symptoms persist, dosage reduction may be necessary.
  • Give on same day each week for malaria prophylaxis. Begin when individual enters malarious area and continue for 10 wk after leaving the area.

Adverse Effects (≥1%)

GI: Anorexia, vomiting, atrophic glossitis, abdominal cramps, diarrhea. Skin: Skin rashes. Hematologic: Folic acid deficiency (megaloblastic anemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, pancytopenia, diarrhea). CNS: CNS stimulation including convulsions, respiratory failure.


Drug: Folic acid, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) may decrease effectiveness against toxoplasmosis.


Absorption: Readily from GI tract. Peak: 2 h. Distribution: Concentrates in kidneys, lungs, liver, and spleen; distributed into breast milk. Elimination: Slowly in urine; excretion may extend over 30 d or longer. Half-Life: 54–148 h.

Nursing Implications

Assessment & Drug Effects

  • Monitor patient response closely. Dosages required for treatment of toxoplasmosis approach toxic levels.
  • Lab tests: Perform blood counts, including platelets, twice weekly during therapy.
  • Withhold drug and notify physician if hematologic abnormalities appear.

Patient & Family Education

  • Be aware that folic acid deficiency may occur with long-term use of pyrimethamine. Report to physician weakness, and pallor (from anemia), ulcerations of oral mucosa, superinfections, glossitis; GI disturbances such as diarrhea and poor fat absorption, fever. Folate (folinic acid) replacement may be prescribed. Increase food sources of folates (if allowed) in diet.

Common adverse effects in italic, life-threatening effects underlined; generic names in bold; classifications in SMALL CAPS; Canadian drug name; Prototype drug

© 2006-2022 Last Updated On: 12/03/2022 (0)
Wait 20 seconds...!!!