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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names: Rilutek

Generic Name: riluzole (Pronunciation: RIL yoo zol)

What is riluzole (Rilutek)?

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 are the possible side effects of riluzole (Rilutek)?

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 a serious side effect such as:

  • nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
  • chest discomfort, dry cough, trouble breathing;
  • cough with yellow or green mucus; or
  • stabbing chest pain, feeling short of breath.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • dizziness, spinning sensation;
  • muscle stiffness;
  • weakness, drowsiness;
  • numbness or tingly feeling in or around your mouth;
  • mild nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation;
  • headache; or
  • runny 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.

What is the most important information I should know about riluzole (Rilutek)?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to riluzole.

Before you take riluzole, tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney disease.

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

Take riluzole on an empty stomach.

To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your blood will need to be tested often. Visit your doctor regularly.

Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage.

Avoid products that contain caffeine. Caffeine may cause too much riluzole to build up in your body.

Smoking cigarettes may make riluzole less effective.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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