Generic Name: albendazole (Oral route)

al-BEN-da-zole

Commonly used brand name(s)

In the U.S.

  • Albenza

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Tablet

Therapeutic Class: Anthelmintic

Chemical Class: Benzimidazole

Uses For Albenza

Albendazole is used to treat infections caused by worms. Albendazole works by keeping the worm from absorbing sugar (glucose), so that the worm loses energy and dies.

Albendazole is used to treat:

  • Hydatid disease (echinococcosis);
  • Infection of the nervous system caused by pork tapeworms (neurocysticercosis).

Albendazole is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in product labeling in the U.S., albendazole is used in certain patients with the following infections:

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  • Capillariasis;
  • Cutaneous larva migrans;
  • Common roundworms (ascariasis);
  • Hookworms (ancylostomiasis and necatoriasis);
  • Pinworms (enterobiasis or oxyuriasis);
  • Strongyloidiasis;
  • Tapeworms (taeniasis);
  • Trichostrongyliasis;
  • Whipworms (trichuriasis).

For patients taking albendazole for hookworms:

  • In hookworm infections, anemia may occur. Therefore, your doctor may want you to take iron supplements. If so, it is important to take iron every day while you are being treated for hookworm infection. Do not miss any doses. Your doctor may also want you to keep taking iron supplements for at least 3 to 6 months after you stop taking albendazole. If you have any questions about this, check with your doctor.

For patients taking albendazole for pinworms:

  • In some patients, pinworms may return after treatment with albendazole. Wear pajamas and underwear to sleep, take a bath every day, and wash (not shake) all bedding and nightclothes (pajamas) after treatment to help prevent reinfection. Treatment may be repeated after 3 weeks.
  • Pinworms may be easily passed from one person to another, especially among persons in the same household. Therefore, all household members may have to be treated at the same time to prevent their infection or reinfection.

Before Using Albenza

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Although there is very little specific information comparing use of albendazole in children with use in other age groups, this medicine is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in children than it does in adults.

Geriatric

Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of albendazole in the elderly with use in other age groups.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy Category Explanation
All Trimesters C Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.

Breast Feeding

Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.

Interactions with Medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following may cause an increased risk of certain side effects but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.

  • Grapefruit Juice

Other Medical Problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Cysticercosis involving the eye—Patients who are being treated with albendazole for pork tapeworms of the nervous system (neurocysticercosis) should be examined for lesions in the eye; use of albendazole may increase the chance of side effects involving the eye
  • Liver disease—Patients with liver disease may have an increased chance of side effects

Proper Use of Albenza

No special preparations (fasting, laxatives, or enemas) or other steps are necessary before, during, or immediately after treatment with albendazole.

Albendazole is best taken with meals, especially with food containing fat, to help your body absorb the medicine better.

For patients taking the tablet form of albendazole:

  • Tablets should be swallowed whole with a small amount of liquid.

To help clear up your infection completely, take this medicine exactly as directed by your doctor for the full time of treatment . In some infections, additional treatments with this medicine may be needed at 2-week intervals to clear up the infection completely. Do not miss any doses.

Dosing

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form (tablets):
    • For hydatid disease:
      • Adults, teenagers, and children weighing 60 kilograms (132 pounds) and over—400 milligrams (mg) two times a day for twenty-eight days. Treatment may need to be repeated in fourteen days.
      • Adults, teenagers, and children weighing less than 60 kilograms (132 pounds)—15 mg per kilogram (6.8 milligrams per pound) of body weight per day divided into two doses and taken for twenty-eight days. Treatment may need to be repeated in fourteen days.
    • For infections of the nervous system caused by pork tapeworm (neurocysticercosis):
      • Adults, teenagers, and children weighing 60 kilograms (132 pounds) and over—400 milligrams (mg) two times a day for eight to thirty days.
      • For adults, teenagers, and children weighing less than 60 kilograms (132 pounds)—15 mg per kilogram (6.8 mg per pound) of body weight per day divided into two doses and taken for eight to thirty days.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep the bottle closed when you are not using it. Keep it in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Precautions While Using Albenza

It is important that your doctor check your progress after treatment. This is to make sure that the infection is cleared up completely, and to allow your doctor to check for any unwanted effects.

If your symptoms do not improve after you have taken this medicine for the full course of treatment, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

For women of childbearing age, it is important that you use birth control while taking albendazole since this medicine can cause birth defects or other problems.

Albenza Side Effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

Rare
  • Fever
  • skin rash or itching
  • sore throat
  • unusual tiredness and weakness

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

Less common
  • Abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
Rare
  • Thinning or loss of hair

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

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

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

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