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How does Wakix work for narcolepsy?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Feb 6, 2024.

Official answer


Key Points

  • Wakix (pitolisant) increases histamine levels in the brain. Histamine is a neurotransmitter (a natural chemical) in the brain that helps to promote wakefulness and stable muscle tone throughout the day.
  • Wakix has activity as an antagonist/inverse agonist at the histamine-3 receptors found primarily in the brain, but its exact mechanism is not fully known.
  • Wakix is not classified as a controlled substance.

Wakix is approved for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) or cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle strength) in adult patients with narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is characterized by immense daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. Cataplexy is a sudden, brief loss of voluntary muscle tone often triggered by strong emotions like laughter.

In the brain, histamine is a neurotransmitter (natural chemical messenger) that is important for wakefulness. Wakix binds strongly to H3 receptors. H3 receptors help to regulate the production and release of histamine in the brain.

Wakix is available as an oral tablet and is usually taken once daily when you wake up. It may take up to 8 weeks before your symptoms improve. Take your medicine exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Can I take an antihistamine with Wakix?

Certain prescription or over-the-counter medicines can prevent histamine from working to promote wakefulness and may reduce the effectiveness of Wakix. You should avoid centrally acting H1 receptor antagonists. Examples of these medicines include:

  • pheniramine maleate
  • diphenhydramine (example: Benadryl)
  • promethazine (antihistamines)
  • imipramine
  • clomipramine
  • mirtazapine (tri- or tetracyclic antidepressants)

Ask your pharmacist about possible drug interactions with Wakix each time you start a new prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin or herbal medication.

Related: Wakix drug interactions (in more detail)

Do not take Wakix if you have severe liver disease.

This is not all the information you need to know about Wakix (pitolisant) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your treatment. Review the full Wakix information here, and discuss this information and any questions you have with your health care provider.


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