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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names: Xenazine

Generic Name: tetrabenazine (Pronunciation: TET ra BEN a zeen)

What is tetrabenazine (Xenazine)?

Tetrabenazine reduces the amount of certain chemicals in the body that are overly active in people with Huntington's disease.

Tetrabenazine is used to treat Huntington's chorea (uncontrolled muscle movements).

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

What are the possible side effects of tetrabenazine (Xenazine)?

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

Stop using tetrabenazine and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • extreme drowsiness;
  • mood or behavior changes, thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself;
  • feeling restless, agitated, or hyperactive (mentally or physically);
  • tremor (uncontrolled shaking), restless muscle movements in your eyes, tongue, jaw, or neck;
  • trouble swallowing;
  • problems with balance;
  • dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeat;
  • very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, feeling like you might pass out;
  • muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness with fever or flu symptoms and dark colored urine; or
  • urinating less than usual or not at all, swelling, weight gain, feeling short of breath.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • feeling anxious or irritable;
  • mild drowsiness, tired feeling;
  • mild nausea;
  • breast swelling or discharge; or
  • cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat.

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 tetrabenazine (Xenazine)?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to tetrabenazine, or if you have severe or untreated depression, suicidal thoughts, liver disease, or past or present breast cancer.

Do not use tetrabenazine if you have taken reserpine within the past 20 days, or if you have used an MAO inhibitor such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) within the past 14 days.

Before you take tetrabenazine, tell your doctor if you have heart disease or a recent history of heart attack, a personal or family history of "Long QT syndrome," or a history of depression or suicidal thoughts or actions.

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

You may feel depressed or have thoughts about suicide when you first start taking this medication. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits during treatment.

Stop taking tetrabenazine and call your doctor at once if you have any new or worsening symptoms such as: mood or behavior changes, confusion, trouble swallowing, problems with balance, uncontrolled muscle movements, extreme drowsiness, or if you feel restless, agitated, hyperactive (mentally or physically), depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

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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