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Tetrabenazine

Generic Name: Tetrabenazine (tet ra BEN a zeen)
Brand Name: Xenazine

Medically reviewed on July 4, 2018

Warning

  • This medicine may raise the chance of low mood (depression) in people with Huntington's disease. The risk may be greater in people who have had low mood or thoughts or actions of suicide in the past. Watch people who take tetrabenazine closely. Call the doctor right away if signs like low mood, nervousness, restlessness, grouchiness, panic attacks, or changes in mood or actions are new or worse. Call the doctor right away if any thoughts or actions of suicide occur.

Uses of Tetrabenazine:

  • It is used to treat disabling involuntary movements in Huntington's chorea.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Tetrabenazine?

  • If you have an allergy to tetrabenazine or any other part of tetrabenazine.
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you have taken certain drugs used for low mood (depression) like isocarboxazid, phenelzine, or tranylcypromine or drugs used for Parkinson's disease like selegiline or rasagiline in the last 14 days. Taking tetrabenazine within 14 days of those drugs can cause very bad high blood pressure.
  • If you have any of these health problems: Low mood (depression), thoughts of taking your own life, or liver disease.
  • If you have ever had a long QT on ECG or other heartbeat that is not normal.
  • If you are taking reserpine or have taken it within the last 20 days.
  • If you are taking any of these drugs: Deutetrabenazine or valbenazine.
  • If you are taking any drugs that can cause a certain type of heartbeat that is not normal (prolonged QT interval). There are many drugs that can do this. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with tetrabenazine.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take tetrabenazine with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Tetrabenazine?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take tetrabenazine. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how tetrabenazine affects you.
  • To lower the chance of feeling dizzy or passing out, rise slowly if you have been sitting or lying down. Be careful going up and down stairs.
  • Have your blood pressure checked often. Talk with your doctor.
  • Talk with your doctor before you drink alcohol or use other drugs and natural products that slow your actions.
  • If you have Huntington's disease, your signs can still get worse while you use drugs like this one. Call your doctor right away if you have any signs that are new or worse.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks of using tetrabenazine while you are pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

How is this medicine (Tetrabenazine) best taken?

Use tetrabenazine as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • Take with or without food.
  • To gain the most benefit, do not miss doses.
  • Keep taking tetrabenazine as you have been told by your doctor or other health care provider, even if you feel well.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.
  • If you miss more than 5 days of taking tetrabenazine. Talk with your doctor.

See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Trouble controlling body movements that is new or worse.
  • Change in balance.
  • Shakiness, trouble moving around, or stiffness.
  • Feeling very sleepy.
  • Restlessness.
  • Feeling agitated.
  • Feeling confused.
  • A fast heartbeat.
  • A heartbeat that does not feel normal.
  • Dizziness or passing out.
  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Change in eyesight.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • Enlarged breasts.
  • Not able to get or keep an erection.
  • For women, no period.
  • A very bad and sometimes deadly health problem called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) may happen. Call your doctor right away if you have any fever, muscle cramps or stiffness, dizziness, very bad headache, confusion, change in thinking, fast heartbeat, heartbeat that does not feel normal, or are sweating a lot.

What are some other side effects of Tetrabenazine?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out Tetrabenazine?

  • Store at room temperature.
  • Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.

Consumer information use

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • This medicine comes with an extra patient fact sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it with care. Read it again each time tetrabenazine is refilled. If you have any questions about tetrabenazine, please talk with the doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Further information

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

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