dronabinol (Oral route)

Pronunciation

droe-NAB-i-nol

Commonly used brand name(s)

In the U.S.

  • Marinol

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Capsule
  • Capsule, Liquid Filled

Therapeutic Class: Antiemetic

Chemical Class: Cannabinoid

Uses For dronabinol

Dronabinol is used to prevent nausea and vomiting that may occur after treatment with cancer medicines. It is used only when other kinds of medicine for nausea and vomiting did not work. dronabinol is also used to increase appetite in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Slideshow: Debunking The Myths - HIV/Aids Unravelled

dronabinol is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before Using dronabinol

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 dronabinol, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to dronabinol 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

Appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of dronabinol have not been performed in children with AIDS-related anorexia (loss of appetite). Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of dronabinol in children with nausea and vomiting caused by cancer medicines. However, because of dronabinol's effects on brain function, it should be used with caution.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of dronabinol in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have dementia or age-related liver, kidney, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving dronabinol.

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

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while 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. When you are taking dronabinol, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using dronabinol with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Topotecan

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. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other Medical Problems

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

  • Alcohol abuse or dependence, history of or
  • Drug abuse or dependence, history of—Dependence on dronabinol may develop.
  • Bipolar disorder (manic or depressive states) or
  • Heart disease or
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) or
  • Mental illness, severe or
  • Seizures, history of—Use with caution. Dronabinol may make these conditions worse.

Proper Use of dronabinol

Take dronabinol only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. If too much is taken, it may lead to medical problems because of an overdose.

Dosing

The dose of dronabinol 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 dronabinol. 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 (capsules):
    • For increasing appetite in patients with AIDS:
      • Adults and teenagers—At first, 2.5 milligrams (mg) two times a day, taken before lunch and supper. Your doctor may change your dose depending on your condition. However, the dose is usually not more than 20 mg a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For nausea and vomiting caused by cancer medicines:
      • Adults and teenagers—Dose is based on body surface area and must be determined by your doctor. Your doctor will tell you how much medicine to take and when to take it.
      • Children—Dose is based on body surface area and must be determined by your doctor.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of dronabinol, 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 in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Precautions While Using dronabinol

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to allow for changes in your dose and to check for any unwanted effects.

Dronabinol will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (medicines that make you drowsy or less alert). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for allergies or colds; sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine; prescription pain medicines including other narcotics; medicine for seizures (e.g., barbiturates); muscle relaxants; or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the above while you are taking dronabinol.

dronabinol may cause some people to become drowsy, dizzy, lightheaded, or to feel a false sense of well-being. Make sure you know how you react to dronabinol before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or are not alert and clearheaded.

Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may occur, especially when you get up suddenly from a lying or sitting position. Getting up slowly may help lessen this problem.

If you develop any unusual or strange thoughts and behavior while using dronabinol, be sure to discuss it with your doctor. Some changes that have occurred in people receiving dronabinol are like those seen in people who drink too much alcohol.

If you think you or someone else may have taken an overdose of dronabinol, get emergency help at once. Taking an overdose of dronabinol or taking alcohol or CNS depressants with dronabinol may lead to severe mental effects. Signs of overdose include changes in mood, confusion, hallucinations, mental depression, nervousness or anxiety, and fast or pounding heartbeat.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

dronabinol 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 immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

Less common
  • Changes in mood
  • confusion
  • delusions
  • fast or pounding heartbeat
  • feelings of unreality
  • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there)
  • loss of memory
  • mental depression
  • nervousness or anxiety
  • problems with memory
Rare
  • Blurred vision
  • chills
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position suddenly
  • sweating
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:

Symptoms of overdose
  • Being forgetful
  • change in how fast you think time is passing
  • change in your sense of smell, taste, sight, sound, or touch
  • constipation
  • decrease in motor coordination
  • drowsiness (severe)
  • dryness of the mouth (severe)
  • false sense of well-being
  • feeling sluggish
  • panic reaction
  • problems in urinating
  • redness of the eyes
  • seizures
  • slurred speech
  • unusual drowsiness or dullness

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:

More common
  • Clumsiness or unsteadiness
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • false sense of well-being
  • nausea
  • trouble with thinking
  • vomiting
Less common or rare
  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • flushing of the face
  • lack or loss of strength
  • restlessness
Rare
  • Burning, dry, or itching eyes
  • continuing ringing or buzzing or other unexplained noise in the ears
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • discharge, excessive tearing
  • headache
  • hearing loss
  • redness, pain, swelling of the eye, eyelid, or inner lining of the eyelid
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • stuffy nose

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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