Generic Name: oxazepam (ox A ze pam)
Brand Name: Serax

What is Serax (oxazepam)?

Oxazepam is in a group of drugs called benzodiazepines (ben-zoe-dye-AZE-eh-peens). Oxazepam affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause anxiety.

Oxazepam is used to treat anxiety disorders or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Oxazepam may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about Serax (oxazepam)?

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to oxazepam or to other benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), or lorazepam (Ativan).

This medication can cause birth defects in an unborn baby. Do not use oxazepam if you are pregnant.

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Before taking oxazepam, tell your doctor if you have any breathing problems, glaucoma, porphyria, kidney or liver disease, or a history of depression, suicidal thoughts, or addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Do not drink alcohol while taking oxazepam. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol.

Avoid using other medicines that make you sleepy. They can add to sleepiness caused by oxazepam.

Oxazepam may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Oxazepam should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Serax (oxazepam)?

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to oxazepam or to other benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), or lorazepam (Ativan).

Before taking oxazepam, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • glaucoma;

  • asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), or other breathing problems;

  • kidney or liver disease;

  • a history of depression or suicidal thoughts or behavior; or

  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take this medication.

Oxazepam can cause birth defects in an unborn baby. Do not use oxazepam without your doctor's consent if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. Use an effective form of birth control while you are using this medication.

Oxazepam may pass into breast milk and could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

The sedative effects of oxazepam may last longer in older adults. Accidental falls are common in elderly patients who take benzodiazepines. Use caution to avoid falling or accidental injury while you are taking oxazepam.

How should I take Serax (oxazepam)?

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results from this medication.

Oxazepam should be used for only a short time. Do not take this medication for longer than 4 months without your doctor's advice.

Oxazepam may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Oxazepam should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

Contact your doctor if this medicine seems to stop working as well in treating your symptoms.

Do not stop using oxazepam suddenly without first talking to your doctor. You may need to use less and less before you stop the medication completely.

Your symptoms may return when you stop using oxazepam after using it over a long period of time. You may also have seizures or withdrawal symptoms when you stop using oxazepam. Withdrawal symptoms may include tremor, sweating, trouble sleeping, muscle cramps, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior, and seizure (convulsions).

To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your doctor will need to check your progress on a regular basis. Do not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.

Store oxazepam at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

Keep track of how many pills have been used from each new bottle of this medicine. Benzodiazepines are drugs of abuse and you should be aware if any person in the household is using this medicine improperly or without a prescription.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at your next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. An overdose of oxazepam can be fatal.

Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, confusion, weakness or tired feeling, muscle weakness, loss of balance or coordination, feeling light-headed, fainting, or coma.

What should I avoid while taking Serax (oxazepam)?

Do not drink alcohol while taking oxazepam. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol.

Oxazepam can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Tell your doctor if you regularly use other medicines that make you sleepy (such as cold or allergy medicine, narcotic pain medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures or depression). They can add to sleepiness caused by oxazepam.

Serax (oxazepam) side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • confusion;

  • unusual risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger;

  • hyperactivity, agitation, hostility;

  • hallucinations;

  • feeling lightheaded, fainting;

  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or

  • problems with urination.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • drowsiness, dizziness;

  • amnesia or forgetfulness, trouble concentrating;

  • slurred speech;

  • swelling;

  • headache;

  • skin rash;

  • nausea, vomiting, constipation;

  • irregular menstrual periods; or

  • loss of interest in sex.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Serax (oxazepam)?

Before taking oxazepam, tell your doctor if you are using any of the following drugs:

  • a barbiturate such as amobarbital (Amytal), butabarbital (Butisol), mephobarbital (Mebaral), secobarbital (Seconal), or phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton);

  • an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate);

  • medicines to treat psychiatric disorders, such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine), haloperidol (Haldol), mesoridazine (Serentil), pimozide (Orap), or thioridazine (Mellaril);

  • narcotic medications such as butorphanol (Stadol), codeine, hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin), levorphanol (Levo-Dromoran), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine, Methadose), morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Oramorph), naloxone (Narcan), oxycodone (OxyContin), propoxyphene (Darvon, Darvocet); or

  • antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil, Etrafon), amoxapine (Asendin), citalopram (Celexa), clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Sinequan), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), fluvoxamine (Luvox), imipramine (Janimine, Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), paroxetine (Paxil), protriptyline (Vivactil), sertraline (Zoloft), or trimipramine (Surmontil).

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with oxazepam. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about oxazepam.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 6.03. Revision Date: 2010-12-15, 5:01:39 PM.

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