Generic Name: pilocarpine (oral) (PYE loe KAR peen)
Brand Name: Salagen
What is pilocarpine?
Pilocarpine affects the nervous system and increases saliva secretion in the mouth.
Pilocarpine is used to treat dry mouth caused by Sjogren's syndrome, or by radiation to treat head and neck cancer.
Pilocarpine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about pilocarpine?
You should not use pilocarpine if you have narrow-angle glaucoma, or asthma that is untreated or uncontrolled.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking pilocarpine?
You should not use pilocarpine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
untreated or uncontrolled asthma; or
To make sure pilocarpine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other breathing disorder;
glaucoma or vision problems;
if you take heart or blood pressure medicine; or
if you use a bronchodilator to treat a breathing disorder.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether pilocarpine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.
It is not known whether pilocarpine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
How should I take pilocarpine?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
You may take pilocarpine with or without food.
Drink plenty of liquids while you are taking pilocarpine. This medicine can cause increased sweating and you may get dehydrated easily.
Use pilocarpine regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of pilocarpine can be fatal at very high doses.
What should I avoid while taking pilocarpine?
This medicine may cause blurred vision, especially at night or in low light. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be able to see clearly.
Avoid becoming overheated during exercise and in hot weather. Pilocarpine can increase sweating and you may be more prone to dehydration.
Pilocarpine 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 pilocarpine and call your doctor at once if you have:
shortness of breath;
fast or slow heart rate;
severe headache, pounding in your neck or ears;
confusion, tremors; or
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out.
Common side effects may include:
increased sweating, urinating more than usual;
chills, or flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);
headache, dizziness, weakness;
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
blurred vision, watery eyes; or
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.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Pilocarpine dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Xerostomia:
Initial - Head and Neck cancer patients:
5 mg three times a day. Titrate upwards, not to exceed 10 mg per dose, to a maximum of 30 mg per day.
Sjögren's syndrome patients:
5 mg four times a day.
What other drugs will affect pilocarpine?
Other drugs may interact with pilocarpine, 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.
More about pilocarpine
- Other brands: Salagen
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about pilocarpine.
- 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.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.02.
Date modified: January 10, 2017
Last reviewed: June 16, 2014