Hydroxychloroquine in decompensated, treatment-refractory noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. A new job for an old drug?

Ann Intern Med. 1990 May 1;112(9):678-81. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-112-9-678.


Study objective: To evaluate the usefulness and safety of hydroxychloroquine in patients with decompensated, treatment-refractory noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Design: Prospective, randomized, placebo, double-blind 6-month trial.

Patients: Thirty-eight patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes resistant to commonly used therapies (oral drugs, insulin, combination of insulin and oral drugs).

Interventions: Two study groups: one received insulin (n = 22) and the other, glibenclamide (n = 16). In each group, half of the patients were randomly allocated into two subgroups who continued the previous treatment but took either placebo tablets or hydroxychloroquine, 200 mg three times a day. The four subgroups were as follows: insulin and placebo (n = 11); insulin and hydroxychloroquine (n = 11); glibenclamide and placebo (n = 8); and glibenclamide and hydroxychloroquine (n = 8).

Measurements and main results: At 6 months, relevant and statistically significant improvement occurred in the 11 patients who received the insulin and hydroxychloroquine (glucose profile decrease, -11.7 mmol/L; 95% CI, -13.9 to -9.5, P = 0.001; glycated hemoglobin A1c decrease, -3.3%; 95% CI, -3.9 to -2.7, P = 0.001). No significant changes were seen in patients on placebo. The daily insulin dose in patients treated with the combined insulin and hydroxychloroquine therapy had to be reduced an average of 30%. No important side effects were detected.

Conclusions: Combining antidiabetic therapy with hydroxychloroquine in decompensated, treatment-refractory patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes may help to break the vicious circle of hyperglycemia and lead to better management of the disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Glyburide / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hydroxychloroquine / adverse effects
  • Hydroxychloroquine / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Glyburide