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Generic name: clonidine (oral) [ KLOE-ni-deen ]
Drug class: Antiadrenergic agents, centrally acting

Medically reviewed by Kaci Durbin, MD. Last updated on Aug 15, 2023.

What is Catapres?

Catapres lowers blood pressure by decreasing the levels of certain chemicals in your blood. This allows your blood vessels to relax and your heart to beat more slowly and easily.

Catapres is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). It is sometimes given with other medications.

Catapres is also available as a transdermal patch worn on the skin. Do not use two forms of this medicine at the same time.

The Kapvay brand of clonidine is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The Duraclon brand of clonidine is an intravenous (IV) form of clonidine used to treat severe pain in cancer patients.


Before you take Catapres, tell your doctor if you have heart disease, severe coronary artery disease, a heart rhythm disorder, slow heartbeats, low blood pressure, a history of heart attack or stroke, kidney disease, or if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a Catapres TTS transdermal skin patch.

Catapres may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

Do not take two forms of clonidine at the same time.

If you are being treated for high blood pressure, keep using this medication even if you feel well. High blood pressure often has no symptoms. You may need to use blood pressure medication for the rest of your life.

Do not stop taking Catapres without speaking to your doctor. Suddenly stopping Catapres can lead to a severe rise in blood pressure and symptoms such as nervousness, restlessness, headaches, and tremors or shaking. Rarely, stroke and death can occur after Catapres withdrawal.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using Catapres. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.

Use Catapres only as directed. Tell your doctor if you use other medicines or have other medical conditions or allergies.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take Catapres if you are allergic to clonidine.

To make sure Catapres is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

It is not known if clonidine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of clonidine on the baby.

Clonidine may affect fertility in men or women. Pregnancy could be harder to achieve while either parent is using this medicine.

If you are breastfeeding, tell your doctor if you notice somnolence, tiredness, rapid breathing, and poor feeding in the nursing baby.

Catapres is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

How should I take Catapres?

Take Catapres exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose.

Catapres is usually taken in the morning and at bedtime. If you take different doses of this medicine at each dosing time, it may be best to take the larger dose at bedtime.

Catapres may be taken with or without food.

Tell your doctor if you have a planned surgery.

You may have withdrawal symptoms if you stop using Catapres suddenly. Ask your doctor before stopping the medicine.

Call your doctor if you are sick with vomiting. This is especially important for a child taking Catapres.

If you have high blood pressure, keep using this medicine even if you feel well. High blood pressure often has no symptoms.

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

Dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Hypertension:

-Initial dose: 0.1 mg orally 2 times a day (morning and bedtime)
-Titration: Increments of 0.1 mg orally per day may be made at weekly intervals to desired response
-Maintenance dose: 0.2 to 0.6 mg orally per day in divided doses
-Maximum dose: 2.4 mg orally per day in divided doses

-Taking the larger portion of the oral daily dose at bedtime may minimize transient adjustment effects of dry mouth and drowsiness

Transdermal patches:
-Initial dose: 0.1 mg/24 hr patch applied every 7 days
-Maintenance dose: If, after 1 to 2 weeks the desired reduction in blood pressure is not achieved, increase the dosage by adding another 0.1 mg/24 hr patch or changing to a larger system
-Maximum dose: Doses above two 0.3 mg/24 hr patches applied every 7 days is usually not associated with additional efficacy

-The transdermal patch should be applied to a hairless area of intact skin on the upper outer arm or chest.
-Each new patch should be applied on a different skin site from the previous location.
-If the patch loosens during 7-day wearing, the adhesive cover should be applied directly over the system to ensure good adhesion.
-There have been rare reports of the need for patch changes prior to 7 days to maintain blood pressure control.
-When substituting patches for the oral formulation or for other antihypertensive drugs, physicians should be aware that the antihypertensive effect of the patches may not commence until 2 to 3 days after initial application; therefore, gradual reduction of prior drug dosage is advised. Some or all previous antihypertensive treatment may have to be continued, particularly in patients with more severe forms of hypertension.

Use: For hypertension, alone or in combination with other antihypertensive agents

What happens if I miss a dose?

Skip the missed dose and use your next dose at the regular time. Do not use two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include feeling cold, irritable, weak, drowsy, or light-headed, or having weak reflexes, pinpoint pupils, slow heartbeats, shallow breathing, or a seizure.

What should I avoid while taking Catapres?

Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase certain side effects of Catapres.

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Dizziness or drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.

Avoid becoming overheated or dehydrated during exercise and in hot weather.

Catapres side effects

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

Call your doctor at once if you have:

Common Catapres side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Catapres?

Using Catapres with other drugs that make you drowsy can worsen this effect. Ask your doctor before using opioid medication, a sleeping pill, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety or seizures.

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with clonidine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Catapres only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.