The FDA has issued a specific warning not to use quinine for leg cramps. Until recently, no quinine product was ever approved by FDA. They were on the market before FDA approval was required. Now that there is an approved product, Qualaquin, the FDA is forcing all the others off the market by June. This will cause some problems. For one, Qualaquin costs more . . . almost $5 a capsule compared to pennies for the others. Another complication is that Qualaquin is specifically labeled NOT to be used for leg cramps. It’s approved ONLY for malaria. The FDA discourages using quinine for leg cramps because they say the risks outweigh any benefit.
Quinine can cause serious arrhythmias, thrombocytopenia( low platelet count) and hypersensitivity reactions. The risk is small as there have been 93 deaths since 1969.
With over 99% of current quinine Rxs being used for leg cramps patients may have trouble convincing their doctor to write a prescription. Tonic water does not contain enough quinine to do anything. However, there are homeopathic combination remedies that often can be used with good results. Also, supplementing potassium and magnesium can often eliminate leg cramps.
Terry Pfau DO, HMD