Generic Name: riluzole (RIL yoo zol)
Brand Name: Rilutek
What is riluzole?
Riluzole works by decreasing your body's levels of glutamate, an amino acid that affects nerves that send messages from your brain to your muscles. People with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may have very high levels of glutamate, which can damage these nerve cells.
Riluzole is used to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.
Riluzole is not a cure for ALS, but it may delay progression of the disease and prolong your life.
Riluzole may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about riluzole?
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.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking riluzole?
You should not use riluzole if you are allergic to it.
To make sure riluzole is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
Riluzole can cause liver problems, especially in women, older adults, and people with a history of liver disease, or people using certain other medications harmful to the liver, such as: antibiotics or antifungal medication; antiviral or HIV/AIDS medicine; birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy; pain or arthritis medications; seizure medicine such as carbamazepine or phenytoin; or "statin" cholesterol-lowering medication.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether riluzole 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 riluzole passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
Do not give this medication to anyone under 18 years old without medical advice.
How should I take riluzole?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Riluzole is usually taken once every 12 hours. Take the medicine at the same times each day.
Take riluzole on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.
Before and during your treatment with riluzole, you may need frequent blood tests to check your liver function.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.
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.
What should I avoid while taking riluzole?
Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage while taking riluzole.
This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Avoid coffee, tea, cola, or other products that contain caffeine. Caffeine may cause too much riluzole to build up in your body.
Avoid smoking. Smoking cigarettes may make riluzole less effective.
Riluzole 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 riluzole and call your doctor at once if you have:
sudden chest pain or discomfort, wheezing, dry cough or hack, feeling short of breath;
cough with mucus, stabbing chest pain;
low white blood cells--fever, swollen gums, painful mouth sores, pain when swallowing, cold or flu symptoms; or
liver problems--nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Common side effects may include:
dizziness, spinning sensation;
stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite;
numbness or tingling around your mouth.
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)
Riluzole dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis:
50 mg orally every 12 hours.
No increased benefit can be expected from higher daily doses, but adverse events are increased.
Riluzole tablets should be taken at least an hour before, or two hours after, a meal to avoid a food-related decrease in bioavailability.
What other drugs will affect riluzole?
Riluzole can harm your liver. This effect is increased when you also use certain other medicines. Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with riluzole.
Other drugs may interact with riluzole, 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 riluzole
- Other brands: Rilutek
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about riluzole.
- 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: 4.02.
Date modified: October 14, 2016
Last reviewed: March 19, 2014