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Selegiline (transdermal)

Generic name: selegiline (transdermal) [ se-LE-ji-leen ]
Brand name: Emsam
Dosage form: transdermal film, extended release (12 mg/24 hr; 6 mg/24 hr; 9 mg/24 hr)
Drug classes: Dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents, Monoamine oxidase inhibitors

Medically reviewed by on Dec 26, 2022. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is selegiline transdermal?

Selegiline prevents the breakdown of chemicals in the brain that are often imbalanced in people with depression.

Selegiline transdermal is used to treat major depressive disorder in adults and adolescents who are at least 12 years old.

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


You should not use selegiline if you have an adrenal gland tumor or if you are using certain other medicines. Many drugs can interact with selegiline, and some drugs should not be used together.

Some young people have thoughts about suicide when first using an antidepressant. Stay alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use selegiline if you are allergic to it, or if you have pheochromocytoma (tumor of the adrenal gland).

Some medicines can cause unwanted or dangerous effects when used with selegiline. Your doctor may need to change your treatment plan if you have used any of the following drugs within the past 2 to 5 weeks:

To make sure selegiline is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Some young people have thoughts about suicide when first taking an antidepressant. Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.

It is not known whether selegiline will harm an unborn baby. However, you may have a relapse of depression if you stop using your antidepressant. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant. Do not start or stop selegiline during pregnancy without your doctor's advice.

It is not known whether selegiline passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine and for at least 5 days after your last dose.

Selegiline transdermal is not approved for use by anyone younger than 12 years old.

How should I use selegiline transdermal?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Apply the patch to clean, dry, and hairless skin on your chest, back, thigh, or the outer part of your upper arm. Press the patch firmly into place. You may leave the patch on while bathing, showering, or swimming. Remove the skin patch after 24 hours and replace it with a new one. Choose a different place on your body to wear the patch each time you put on a new one.

Wash your hands with soap and water after applying a patch, and after removing one.

If a patch falls off, try sticking it back into place. If it does not stick well, put on a new patch and leave it on only for the rest of your wearing time. Do not change your patch removal schedule.

Do not wear more than one selegiline patch at a time. Using extra skin patches will not make the medication more effective. Never cut a skin patch. While you are wearing the patch, do not expose it to sunlight or other sources of heat such as a heating pad, electric blanket, hot tub, or sauna.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using selegiline. You may need to stop using the medicine for at least 10 days before a planned surgery. Do not stop using selegiline without first talking to your doctor.

Store the skin patches at room temperature away from heat and moisture. Keep each patch in the foil pouch until you are ready to apply one.

Keep both used and unused selegiline skin patches out of the reach of children or pets. The amount of selegiline in a used skin patch could be fatal to a child or pet who accidentally chews on the patch. Seek emergency medical attention if this happens.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Apply a skin patch as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra patches 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. Overdose symptoms may occur up to 12 hours after the overdose, and could get worse over the next 24 to 48 hours.

Overdose symptoms may include severe headache, hallucinations, fever, cold or clammy skin, fast or irregular heart rate, trouble breathing, feeling agitated or irritable, twisting muscle movements, unusual arching in your back or neck, fainting, or seizure.

What should I avoid while using selegiline transdermal?

Avoid drinking alcohol while you are using selegiline.

While using the 9-mg or 12-mg patches, and for 14 days after you stop, you must NOT eat foods that are high in tyramine, including:

  • air dried meats, aged or fermented meats, sausage or salami (including cacciatore and mortadella), pickled herring, and any spoiled or improperly stored beef, poultry, fish, or liver;

  • beer from a tap, beer that has not been pasteurized;

  • aged cheeses (such as blue, Swiss, cheddar, Parmesan, or Romano cheese);

  • over-the-counter supplements or cough and cold medicines that contain tyramine;

  • sauerkraut, soy beans, soy sauce, tofu, fava beans; or

  • yeast extracts (such as Marmite).

Eating tyramine while you are using selegiline can raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels which could cause life-threatening side effects. You should become very familiar with the list of foods to avoid while you are using selegiline 9-mg or 12-mg patches.

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

Selegiline transdermal side effects

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

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Remove the skin patch and get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of dangerously high blood pressure: sudden and severe headache, confusion, vision problems, chest pain, pounding in your neck or ears, sweating, vomiting, neck stiffness, fast or slow heartbeats, or dilated pupils.

Selegiline may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body);

  • problems with speech or balance;

  • manic episodes--racing thoughts, increased energy, unusual risk-taking behavior, extreme happiness, being irritable or talkative.

Remove the patch and seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Common side effects of selegiline may include:

  • redness or itching where the patch is worn;

  • headache;

  • diarrhea, upset stomach, dry mouth;

  • sleep problems (insomnia);

  • rash; or

  • sinus pain or stuffy nose.

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.

Selegiline dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Parkinson's Disease:

Oral capsule and tablet: 5 mg orally twice a day taken at breakfast and lunch
Maximum dose: 10 mg orally per day

Oral disintegrating tablet:
-Initial dose: 1.25 mg orally once a day for at least 6 weeks
-After 6 weeks, the dose may be increased to 2.5 mg orally once a day if needed
Maintenance dose: 1.25 to 2.5 mg orally once a day before breakfast
Maximum dose: 2.5 mg orally once a day

-Two to 3 days after initiating therapy with this drug, an attempt may be made to reduce the dose of levodopa-carbidopa; typically a 10% to 30% reduction is needed; further reductions may be possible during continued concomitant use.
-There is no evidence that this drug has beneficial effect in the absence of concurrent levodopa therapy.

Use: As an adjunct in the management of Parkinson's disease in patients being treated with levodopa-carbidopa who exhibit deterioration in the quality of their response to this therapy.

Usual Adult Dose for Depression:

Transdermal System:
Initial dose: 6 mg/24 hours patch applied topically once a day
-Based on clinical judgement, doses may be increased in increments of 3 mg/24 hours at intervals of no less than 2 weeks
Maintenance dose: 6 mg/24 hours to 12 mg/24 hours patch applied topically once a day
Maximum dose: 12 mg/24 hours

-Full antidepressant effect may be delayed.
-Tyramine-rich food should be avoided beginning on the first day of therapy with a dose of 9 mg/24 hours or 12 mg/24 hours and continued to be avoided for 2 weeks after these doses are reduced to 6 mg/24 hours or less.

Use: Treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD)

What other drugs will affect selegiline transdermal?

If you have been taking fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), you must stop taking it for 5 weeks before you begin using selegiline transdermal.

Many drugs can interact with selegiline, and some drugs should not be used together. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

  • buspirone (BuSpar);

  • any other antidepressant;

  • cough or cold medicine that contains a decongestant such as phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine;

  • prescription or over-the-counter diet pills;

  • an herbal or dietary supplement that contains tyramine; or

  • stimulant medicine such as Adderall or other medicines to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with selegiline. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

After you stop using selegiline, you may need to wait at least 2 weeks before you start using other medicines.

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.