Primaquine is used alone or with another medication to treat malaria (a serious infection that is spread by mosquitoes in certain parts of the world and can cause death) and to prevent the disease from coming back in people that are infected with malaria. Primaquine is in a class of medications called antimalarials. It works by killing the organisms that cause malaria.

Side Effects Of Primaquine

Primaquine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • heartburn
  • abdominal cramps

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • tiredness
  • pale skin
  • shortness of breath
  • fast heartbeat
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • dark-colored urine
  • headache
  • lack of energy
  • grey-bluish color of lips and/or skin
  • nervousness
  • seizure
  • weak pulse
  • confusion
  • sore throat, fever, cough, or other signs of infection
  • fainting
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision

Primaquine may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

Warnings & Precautions

Before taking primaquine:

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to primaquine, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in primaquine tablets. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor if you are taking penicillin; cephalosporins such as cephalexin (Keflex), cefaclor, cefuroxime (Ceftin), cefdinir (Omnicef), or cefpodoxime (Vantin); levodopa (in Sinemet); medications to treat cancer; methyldopa (Aldomet); or quinidine. Your doctor will probably tell you not to take primaquine. Also do not take primaquine if you are taking or have recently taken quinacrine (not available in the US).
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had rheumatoid arthritis, hemolytic anemia (a condition with an abnormally low number of red blood cells), lupus erythematosus (a disease that occurs when the body’s tissues are attacked by antibodies from its own immune system), methemoglobinemia (a condition with defective red blood cells that are unable to carry oxygen to the tissues in the body), nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) deficiency (a genetic condition), glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency (a genetic condition), or if you or someone in your family has had a reaction after eating fava beans.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking primaquine, call your doctor.

Dosage Of Primaquine

Primaquine comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day for 14 days. Take primaquine at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take primaquine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often or for a longer period of time than prescribed by your doctor.

Take primaquine until you finish the prescription, even if you feel better. If you stop taking primaquine too soon or skip doses, your infection may not be completely treated.


Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body’s response to primaquine.

Before having any laboratory test, tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking primaquine.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.


All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.