Tetrabenazine

Tetrabenazine Overview

Reviewed: October 15, 2013
Updated: 

Tetrabenazine is a prescription medication used to treat chorea, a type of movement disorder. Tetrabenazine belongs to a group of drugs called VMAT inhibitors, which help to restore the balance of natural compounds in the brain in order to restore muscle control.

This medication comes in tablet form and is typically taken 1 to 3 times a day, with or without food.

Common side effects of tetrabenazine include drowsiness, depression, nausea, and dizziness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how tetrabenazine affects you.

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Uses of Tetrabenazine

Tetrabenazine is a prescription medication used to treat chorea, a type of movement disorder.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
 

Side Effects of Tetrabenazine

Serious side effects have been reported with tetrabenazine. See the “Drug Precautions” section.

Common side effects of tetrabenazine include the following:

  • drowsiness
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • restlessness or agitiation
  • nausea
  • irritability
  • dizzinesss

This is not a complete list of tetrabenazine side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
 

Tetrabenazine FDA Warning

WARNING: DEPRESSION AND SUICIDALITY

Tetrabenazine can increase the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts and behavior (suicidality) in patients with Huntington's disease. Anyone considering the use of tetrabenazine must balance the risks of depression and suicidality with the clinical need for control of choreiform movements. Close observation of patients for the emergence or worsening of depression, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior should accompany therapy. Patients, their caregivers, and families should be informed of the risk of depression and suicidality and should be instructed to report behaviors of concern promptly to the treating physician.

Particular caution should be exercised in treating patients with a history of depression or prior suicide attempts or ideation, which are increased in frequency in Huntington's disease. Tetrabenazine is contraindicated in patients who are actively suicidal, and in patients with untreated or inadequately treated depression