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List of medications linked to drug-induced lupus expands

Arnaud L et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2019 Feb 4. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2018-214598

Key clinical point: Researchers have developed an up-to-date list of medications that are associated with drug-induced lupus.

Major finding: A total of 118 drugs are associated with drug-induced lupus, including 42 that have not previously been linked.

Study details: An observational retrospective study analyzing adverse drug reactions reported to VigiBase, the World Health Organization global deduplicated individual case safety reports database.

Disclosures: The authors had no outside funding for the study and reported having no conflicts of interest.


Arnaud L et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2019 Feb 4. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2018-214598.


This new and updated list of possible lupus-inducing drugs includes a growing range of treatment categories, chemical structures, and pharmacologic actions. Yet it is still unclear what the common denominator is that links them.

Drug-induced lupus (DIL) is a peculiar adverse drug reaction that appears to be unrelated to any known property of the inducing agent, although cytokine modulating biologics are a possible exception. Nevertheless, the in vivo metabolism of dissimilar drugs to products with a common, reactive property may go some way to explaining how compounds with different pharmacologic and chemical structures could induce similar adverse reactions.

The findings by Arnaud et al. need better documentation than just positive pharmacovigilance signals. For example, a drug with a relatively high signal does not necessarily translate to a high propensity for causing lupus-like symptoms. It may be a reflection of high drug usage or an awareness of the report contributors for detecting new-onset systemic lupus erythematosus.

Regardless, this research serves to help and inform the medical community to increase the vigilance of previously unreported DIL and perhaps motivate the publication of novel, convincing case reports.

Robert L. Rubin, PhD, is with the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. His comments are adapted from an editorial accompanying the report by Arnaud et al. (Ann Rheum Dis. 2019 Feb 13. doi: annrheumdis-2018-214785). He reported having no relevant disclosures.