Penicillamine for kidney stones


Generic Name Brand Name
penicillamine Cuprimine, Depen

How It Works

Penicillamine helps keep cystine dissolved in the urine, which makes cystine kidney stones less likely to form.

Why It Is Used

Penicillamine may be used to prevent kidney stones in people with high levels of cystine in their urine.

How Well It Works

Penicillamine is effective in preventing the formation of cystine kidney stones.1

Side Effects

Side effects of penicillamine may include:

  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Skin rash.
  • Kidney damage.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Decreased blood cell production in the bone marrow.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

Zinc supplements may reduce or prevent some side effects.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Penicillamine has more side effects than tiopronin, which is also used for cystine kidney stones.

People usually try other treatments to prevent the formation of kidney stones before using this medicine.

Some people may find it difficult to drink enough fluids while taking this medicine. To reduce the side effects of this medicine, you need to drink enough fluids to produce at least 2 qt (1.9 L) of urine each day.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Pietrow PK, Preminger GM (2007). Evaluation and medical management of urinary lithiasis. In AJ Wein, ed., Campbell-Walsh Urology, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1393–1430. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

Last Updated: May 4, 2009

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