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Generic name: nabilone [ NAB-i-lone ]
Brand name: Cesamet
Drug class: Miscellaneous antiemetics

What is nabilone?

Nabilone is a man-made form of cannabis (also known as marijuana).

Nabilone is used to treat severe nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy. Nabilone is for use only when other medications have been unable to control the nausea and vomiting.

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

Important Information

Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use nabilone if you have ever had an allergic reaction to natural or man-made marijuana such as dronabinol (Marinol).

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

Nabilone may be habit-forming. Never share nabilone with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction or habitual marijuana use. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether nabilone will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

It is not known whether nabilone passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using nabilone.

Older adults may be more sensitive to the effects of this medication.

Do not give this medication to anyone under 18 years old.

How should I take nabilone?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Nabilone is usually given 1 to 3 hours before you receive your chemotherapy treatment. Your doctor may recommend that you take a small dose of nabilone on the night before your chemotherapy.

Nabilone may also be used 2 or 3 times each day of the chemotherapy treatment cycle, and for 48 hours after treatment ends, if needed.

The effects of nabilone may last for 48 to 72 hours, and this length of time may not be the same every time you take the medication.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Keep track of the amount of medicine used from each new bottle. Nabilone is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you forget to take nabilone at the correct time before your chemotherapy treatment.

What happens if I overdose?

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

Overdose symptoms may include severe forms of some of the side effects listed in this medication guide.

What should I avoid while taking nabilone?

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

Nabilone side effects

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

Stop using nabilone and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real);

  • confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior;

  • anxiety, panic, paranoia, extreme fear;

  • fast heart rate; or

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out.

Common side effects may include:

  • headache, dizziness, drowsiness;

  • feeling "high";

  • weakness, lack of coordination;

  • depressed mood;

  • dry mouth; or

  • trouble concentrating.

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.

Nabilone dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Nausea/Vomiting -- Chemotherapy Induced:

Recommended Dose:
-1 mg or 2 mg orally 2 times a day

Initial Dose:
-The dose should be given 1 to 3 hours before the first dose of the chemotherapeutic agent is administered.
-The lower starting dose should be used to minimize side effects; the dose can be increased as necessary.

Maintenance Dose:
-This drug may be given 2 or 3 times a day during the entire course of each cycle of chemotherapy and, if needed, for 48 hours after the last dose of each cycle.

Maximum Dose:
-2 mg orally 3 times a day

-A dose of 1 mg or 2 mg orally the night before each cycle of chemotherapy may be useful.
-This drug is not intended to be used on an as-needed basis or as a first-line antiemetic.

Use: Treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional antiemetic treatments.

What other drugs will affect nabilone?

Taking nabilone with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can worsen these effects. Ask your doctor before taking nabilone with a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Other drugs may interact with nabilone, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

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.

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