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Clopidogrel (Oral)

Generic name: clopidogrel (kloe-PID-oh-grel)
Drug class: Platelet aggregation inhibitors

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on May 15, 2021.

Oral route(Tablet)

The effectiveness of clopidogrel hydrogen sulfate results from its antiplatelet activity, which is dependent on its conversion to an active metabolite by the cytochrome P450 (CYP) system, principally CYP2C19. Clopidogrel hydrogen sulfate at recommended doses forms less of the active metabolite and so has a reduced effect on platelet activity in patients who are homozygous for nonfunctional alleles of the CYP2C19 gene, (termed “CYP2C19 poor metabolizers”). Tests are available to identify patients who are CYP2C19 poor metabolizers. Consider use of another platelet P2Y12 inhibitor in patients identified as CYP2C19 poor metabolizers ..

Commonly used brand name(s)

In the U.S.

  • Plavix

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Tablet

Therapeutic Class: Platelet Aggregation Inhibitor

Pharmacologic Class: ADP-Induced Aggregation Inhibitor

Uses for clopidogrel

Clopidogrel is used alone or together with aspirin to lessen the chance of a heart attack or stroke. It is given to patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS), to patients who have already had a heart attack, severe chest pain, or a stroke, or to patients with other circulation problems (eg, peripheral arterial disease) that could cause a stroke or heart attack. Acute coronary syndrome is a condition where the blood flow to the heart is blocked.

A heart attack or stroke may occur when a blood vessel is blocked by a blood clot. Clopidogrel is a platelet inhibitor. It reduces the chance that a harmful blood clot will form by preventing platelets from clumping together in the blood. Clopidogrel may also increase the chance of serious bleeding in some people.

Clopidogrel is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before using clopidogrel

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 clopidogrel, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to clopidogrel 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 have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of clopidogrel in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of clopidogrel in the elderly.

Breastfeeding

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 clopidogrel, 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 clopidogrel with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.

  • Defibrotide

Using clopidogrel 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.

  • Aceclofenac
  • Acemetacin
  • Alfentanil
  • Alipogene Tiparvovec
  • Alteplase, Recombinant
  • Amiodarone
  • Amlodipine
  • Amtolmetin Guacil
  • Anagrelide
  • Anileridine
  • Apalutamide
  • Apixaban
  • Ardeparin
  • Argatroban
  • Aspirin
  • Bemiparin
  • Benzhydrocodone
  • Betrixaban
  • Bivalirudin
  • Bromfenac
  • Bufexamac
  • Buprenorphine
  • Bupropion
  • Butorphanol
  • Caplacizumab-yhdp
  • Celecoxib
  • Certoparin
  • Choline Salicylate
  • Cilostazol
  • Cimetidine
  • Citalopram
  • Clevidipine
  • Clonixin
  • Cobicistat
  • Codeine
  • Dabigatran Etexilate
  • Dalteparin
  • Danaparoid
  • Desirudin
  • Desvenlafaxine
  • Dexibuprofen
  • Dexketoprofen
  • Diacetylmorphine
  • Diclofenac
  • Difenoxin
  • Diflunisal
  • Dihydrocodeine
  • Diltiazem
  • Diphenoxylate
  • Dipyridamole
  • Dipyrone
  • Droxicam
  • Duloxetine
  • Edoxaban
  • Enoxaparin
  • Eptifibatide
  • Escitalopram
  • Esomeprazole
  • Ethylmorphine
  • Etodolac
  • Etofenamate
  • Etoricoxib
  • Etravirine
  • Felbamate
  • Felbinac
  • Felodipine
  • Fenoprofen
  • Fentanyl
  • Fepradinol
  • Feprazone
  • Floctafenine
  • Fluconazole
  • Flufenamic Acid
  • Fluoxetine
  • Flurbiprofen
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Fondaparinux
  • Heparin
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Ibrutinib
  • Ibuprofen
  • Indomethacin
  • Inotersen
  • Isradipine
  • Ketobemidone
  • Ketoconazole
  • Ketoprofen
  • Ketorolac
  • Lansoprazole
  • Lepirudin
  • Levomilnacipran
  • Levorphanol
  • Lornoxicam
  • Loxoprofen
  • Lumiracoxib
  • Meclofenamate
  • Mefenamic Acid
  • Meloxicam
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Milnacipran
  • Morniflumate
  • Morphine
  • Morphine Sulfate Liposome
  • Nabumetone
  • Nadroparin
  • Nalbuphine
  • Naproxen
  • Nefazodone
  • Nepafenac
  • Nicardipine
  • Nicomorphine
  • Nifedipine
  • Niflumic Acid
  • Nimesulide
  • Nimesulide Beta Cyclodextrin
  • Nimodipine
  • Nisoldipine
  • Omeprazole
  • Opium
  • Opium Alkaloids
  • Oxaprozin
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Oxyphenbutazone
  • Paclitaxel
  • Papaveretum
  • Parecoxib
  • Paregoric
  • Parnaparin
  • Paroxetine
  • Phenindione
  • Phenprocoumon
  • Phenylbutazone
  • Piketoprofen
  • Piracetam
  • Piritramide
  • Piroxicam
  • Proglumetacin
  • Propyphenazone
  • Proquazone
  • Protein C
  • Rabeprazole
  • Remifentanil
  • Repaglinide
  • Reviparin
  • Rifampin
  • Rivaroxaban
  • Rofecoxib
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Salsalate
  • Selexipag
  • Selumetinib
  • Sertraline
  • Sibutramine
  • Sodium Salicylate
  • Sufentanil
  • Sulindac
  • Tapentadol
  • Tenoxicam
  • Tiaprofenic Acid
  • Ticagrelor
  • Ticlopidine
  • Tilidine
  • Tinzaparin
  • Tolfenamic Acid
  • Tolmetin
  • Tramadol
  • Trazodone
  • Tucatinib
  • Valdecoxib
  • Venlafaxine
  • Verapamil
  • Vilazodone
  • Vortioxetine
  • Warfarin

Using clopidogrel with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Atorvastatin
  • Fosphenytoin
  • Ginkgo
  • Lovastatin
  • Phenytoin
  • Pioglitazone
  • Simvastatin
  • Vitamin A

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 clopidogrel with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use clopidogrel, 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 clopidogrel. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Bleeding, active (eg, peptic ulcers, head injury) or
  • Intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding in the head), history of—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
  • Stroke, recent or
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke), recent—May cause side effects to become worse.

Proper use of clopidogrel

Take clopidogrel exactly as directed by your doctor. Clopidogrel will not work properly if you take less of it than directed. Taking more clopidogrel than directed may increase the chance of serious side effects without increasing the helpful effects.

Clopidogrel comes with a Medication Guide. It is very important that you read and understand this information. Be sure to ask your doctor about anything you do not understand.

You may take clopidogrel with or without food.

If you are also taking omeprazole (Prilosec®) or esomeprazole (Nexium®), do not use it at the same time that you take clopidogrel. Talk with your doctor about using a different antacid.

Your doctor may tell you to take aspirin while you are using clopidogrel. Do not change the dose or stop taking the aspirin without talking to your doctor first.

Dosing

The dose of clopidogrel 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 clopidogrel. 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 prevention of heart attack or stroke in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS):
      • Adults—At first, 300 milligrams (mg) taken as a single dose. Then, a maintenance dose of 75 mg once a day. Your doctor may also give you aspirin together with clopidogrel.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For prevention of heart attack or stroke in patients with a history heart attack, stroke, or peripheral arterial disease:
      • Adults—75 milligrams (mg) once a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of clopidogrel, 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 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 clopidogrel

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to take it. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

Your doctor may do a genetic test before prescribing clopidogrel to determine if you have a deficiency in a liver enzyme called CYP2C19. Clopidogrel may not work as well if you have this condition.

Tell all medical doctors, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists you go to that you are taking clopidogrel. Clopidogrel may increase the risk of serious bleeding during a surgery, other medical procedures (eg, coronary stent procedure), or some kinds of dental work. You may need to stop using clopidogrel at least 5 days before a surgery, medical procedure, or dental work. Do not stop taking your medicine without your doctor's permission.

While you are using clopidogrel, if you have any kind of bleeding, it may take longer than usual to stop, especially if you hurt yourself. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.

Clopidogrel may increase your chance of bleeding or bruising. Check with your doctor right away if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising, black, tarry stools, blood in the urine or stools, or pinpoint red spots on your skin. Avoid picking your nose. If you need to blow your nose, blow it gently.

Do not change your dose or stop taking clopidogrel without checking first with your doctor.

Check with your doctor right away if you have a change in mental status, dark or bloody urine, difficulty with speaking, fever, pale color of the skin, pinpoint red spots on the skin, seizures, weakness, yellow eyes or skin. These maybe symptoms of a rare and serious condition called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP).

Clopidogrel may cause allergic reactions, including angioedema, which can be life-threatening and require medical attention. Check with your doctor right away if you have large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, sex organs.

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.

Clopidogrel 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:

More common

  • Collection of blood under the skin
  • deep, dark purple bruise
  • itching, pain, redness, or swelling

Less common

  • Bloody nose
  • bloody, black, or tarry stools
  • vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds

Rare

  • Bleeding in the eye
  • confusion
  • headache, sudden, severe, and continuing
  • nausea and vomiting

Incidence not known

  • Anxiety
  • blistering, peeling, loosening of the skin
  • bloating
  • blurred vision
  • burning upper stomach pain
  • change in mental status
  • chest pain or tightness
  • cold sweats
  • coma
  • constipation
  • cool, pale skin
  • cough or hoarseness
  • dark or bloody urine
  • difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • difficulty speaking
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • fast heartbeat
  • feeling of discomfort
  • fever with or without chills
  • general feeling of tiredness or weakness
  • hives, itching, skin rash
  • increased hunger
  • indigestion
  • inflammation of the joints
  • joint or muscle pain
  • large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, sex organs
  • light-colored stools
  • loss of appetite
  • lower back or side pain
  • muscle aches
  • nervousness
  • nightmares
  • noisy breathing
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pains in the side, possibly radiating to the back
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • rash with flat lesions or small raised lesions on the skin
  • rectal bleeding
  • red irritated eyes
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • reddening of the skin, especially around the ears
  • seizures
  • shakiness
  • skin blisters
  • slurred speech
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • stomach cramps, tenderness, or pain
  • sweating
  • swelling of the eyes, face, or inside of the nose
  • swelling or inflammation of the mouth
  • swollen or painful glands
  • trouble breathing
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • watery or bloody diarrhea
  • yellow eyes or skin

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:

Incidence not known

  • Change in taste bad unusual or unpleasant (after) taste
  • difficulty in moving
  • loss of sense of taste
  • muscle aches, cramps, or stiffness
  • redness or swollen joints
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there

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.

Frequently asked questions

Further information

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