Tetrabenazine (By mouth)

Introduction

Tetrabenazine (tet-ra-BEN-a-zeen)

Treats chorea (a movement disorder) that is caused by Huntington disease.

Brand Name(s)

Xenazine

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to tetrabenazine, or if you have liver disease, untreated depression, or suicidal thoughts or behavior. Do not take this medicine if you are also taking a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor (such as isocarboxazid, phenelzine, selegiline, tranylcypromine, Marplan®, Nardil®, Eldepryl®, Parnate®) or reserpine (Harmonyl®). Wait at least 20 days after stopping reserpine before starting tetrabenazine.

How to Use This Medicine

Tablet

  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Your dose may need to be changed several times in order to find out what works best for you. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • You may take this medicine with or without food.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are using medicine to treat mental illness (such as haloperidol, olanzapine, risperidone, thioridazine, ziprasidone, Geodon®, Haldol®, Mellaril®, Risperdal®, Zyprexa®), medicine to treat an infection (such as erythromycin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, sparfloxacin, terbinafine, Avelox®, Lamisil®, Levaquin®, Zagam®), medicine to treat depression (such as duloxetine, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, Cymbalta®, Paxil®, Prozac®, Zoloft®), a phenothiazine medicine (such as chlorpromazine, Thorazine®), or medicine for heart rhythm problems (such as amiodarone, disopyramide, dofetilide, procainamide, quinidine, sotalol, Betapace®, Cordarone®, Norpace®, Procanbid®, Quinaglute®, Tikosyn®).
  • Tell your doctor if you are using any medicines that make you sleepy. These include sleeping pills, cold and allergy medicine, narcotic pain relievers, and sedatives.
  • Do not drink alcohol while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have low amounts of potassium or magnesium in your blood, heart disease, a slow heart beat, or have had a recent heart attack. Tell your doctor if you have a history of depression, suicidal thoughts, tardive dyskinesia (a movement disorder), or heart rhythm problems (such as QT prolongation).
  • For some people, this medicine can increase thoughts of suicide. Tell your doctor right away if you start to feel more depressed and have thoughts about hurting yourself. Report any unusual thoughts or behaviors that trouble you, especially if they are new or are getting worse quickly. Make sure the doctor knows if you have trouble sleeping, get upset easily, have a big increase in energy, or start to act reckless. Also tell the doctor if you have sudden or strong feelings, such as feeling nervous, angry, restless, violent, or scared. Let the doctor know if you or anyone in your family has a history of depression or has tried to commit suicide.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have more than one of these symptoms while taking this medicine: convulsions (seizures), difficulty with breathing, a fast heartbeat, a high fever, high or low blood pressure, increased sweating, loss of bladder control, severe muscle stiffness, unusually pale skin, or tiredness. These could be symptoms of a serious condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS).
  • This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Avoid driving, using machines, or doing anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert. You may also feel lightheaded when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position, so stand up slowly.
  • This medicine may cause tardive dyskinesia (a movement disorder). This may not go away after you stop using the medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms while taking this medicine: lip smacking or puckering, puffing of the cheeks, rapid or worm-like movements of the tongue, uncontrolled chewing movements, or uncontrolled movements of the arms and legs.
  • Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blue or purplish patches in the skin.
  • Change in how much or how often you urinate.
  • Changes in behavior, or thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.
  • Dry mouth, increased thirst, muscle cramps, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Fever, sweating, confusion, uneven heartbeat, or muscle stiffness.
  • Jerky muscle movement you cannot control (often in your face, tongue, or jaw).
  • Problems with balance or walking.
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there.
  • Shortness of breath, or trouble with breathing, swallowing, or speaking.
  • Sleepiness or unusual drowsiness.
  • Tremors.
  • Trouble sleeping, racing thoughts, feeling very nervous, irritable, or restless.
  • Unusual movement of the eyes.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Cough, runny or stuffy nose, or body aches.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Headache.
  • Tiredness.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

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This page was last updated: June 18, 2013

         
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