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Tetrabenazine tablets


Oral formulations of tetrabenazine.

Drugs List

  • tetrabenazine 25mg tablets
  • XENAZINE 25mg tablets
  • Therapeutic Indications


    Chorea - senile
    Treatment of moderate to severe tardive dyskinesia

    Hyperkinetic movement disorders due to Huntington�s chorea, hemiballismus, senile chorea, and related neurological conditions.

    Moderate to severe tardive dyskinesia which is disabling and/or socially embarrassing. Only to be used where the condition persists despite reducing or withdrawing any antipsychotic medication, changing treatment to an atypical antipsychotic or where changes to antipsychotic medication are not clinically appropriate.

    Not all brands are licensed for all indications.


    Doses should be gradually titrated up over several weeks, aiming for a dose that provides clinical benefit with no intolerable adverse effects.

    Once a stable dose is achieved, periodically reassess the need for it to continue.


    Hyperkinetic disorders
    12.5mg to 25mg per day.
    Increase the dose by 12.5mg every three or four days until either a clinical benefit is achieved or side effects cannot be tolerated.
    Maximum dose of 200mg per day. The total daily dose can be split into two or three divided doses.

    If no improvement in symptoms is seen after one week at the maximum dose, discontinue treatment as the patient is unlikely to benefit from continued use and/or further dose increases.

    Tardive dyskinesia
    12.5mg per day, increased according to response.
    Discontinue treatment if no clear benefit is noted or side effects cannot be tolerated.


    Lower initial doses may be required.

    Additional Dosage Information

    Dose titrations should be suspended following the emergence of any side effects and adjusted as necessary to minimise side effects but still provide clinical benefit to the patient.

    Dose dependent side effects
    Dose dependent side effects include sedation, depression, development of parkinsonism, exacerbation of pre-existing symptoms of Parkinson's disease and akathisia.
    If these side effects develop, reduce the dose. If side effects persist or worsen despite a dose reduction, consider discontinuing treatment.

    Following confirmation of raised levels, discontinue treatment.

    Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome
    If Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome is suspected, withdraw tetrabenazine immediately and initiate appropriate treatment.


    Children under 18 years
    Suicidal ideation
    Within 2 weeks of discontinuing MAOIs
    Hepatic impairment
    Long QT syndrome
    Prolactin-dependent neoplasm
    Severe depression
    Torsade de pointes

    Precautions and Warnings

    Family history of long QT syndrome
    Electrolyte imbalance
    Glucose-galactose malabsorption syndrome
    History of depression
    History of torsade de pointes
    Lactose intolerance
    Renal impairment

    Correct electrolyte disorders before treatment
    Advise patient not to drive until they know how the medicine affects them
    Not all available brands are licensed for all indications
    Treatment to be prescribed under the supervision of a specialist
    Contains lactose
    Consider monitoring ECG in patients at risk of QT prolongation
    Monitor patients for adverse reactions including restlessness & agitation
    Monitor prolactin levels where prolactin related side effects occur
    Monitor serum electrolytes
    Reassess need for continued treatment at regular intervals
    Advise patient to report any new or worsening depression/suicidal ideation
    Consider discontinuing if depression develops
    May cause postural hypotension especially in elderly
    Discontinue if patient develops neuroleptic malignant syndrome
    Advise that effects are potentiated by CNS depressants (including alcohol)

    Some brands allow the use of tetrabenazine with caution in hepatic impairment.

    Tetrabenazine can induce parkinsonism and exacerbate pre-existing symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Monitor patients for symptoms (see Dosage; Additional).

    Depression and/or suicidal ideation.
    Tetrabenazine may cause depression or worsen any pre-existing depression. Cases of suicidal ideation have been reported.
    Use caution when treating patients with a history of severe depression or suicidal ideation. Monitor patients closely for changes in mental state (see Dosage; Additional).
    A risk of anger or aggressive behaviour occurring/worsening in patients with a history of depression or other psychiatric illness has been reported.

    Akathisia, restlessness, agitation and extrapyramidal symptoms.
    Monitor for symptoms of akathisia and extrapyramidal symptoms (see Dosage; Additional). Early indicators of akathisia include restlessness and agitation. As tetrabenazine is a central monoamine depleting agent it can theoretically cause tardive dyskinesia in addition to treating it.

    Orthostatic hypotension
    Orthostatic hypotension is commonly reported in patients taking tetrabenazine. In patients who are more vulnerable to the effects of hypotension, regularly monitor lying (or sitting) and standing blood pressure.

    If symptoms of hyperprolactinemia develop (including amenorrhoea, galactorrhea, gynecomastia and impotence), measure prolactin levels (see Dosage; Additional). Chronic raised prolactin may lower oestrogen levels and increase the risk of osteoporosis. This risk should be carefully considered in patients with additional osteoporosis risk factors.

    Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome
    Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome has been reported rarely in patients using tetrabenazine. Presentation usually occurs in early treatment, following dose changes or in prolonged treatment. The main symptoms include mental changes, rigidity, hyperthermia, autonomic dysfunction (sweating and fluctuations in blood pressure) and elevated creatinine phosphokinase levels (see Dosage; Additional).

    Pregnancy and Lactation


    Contraindicated in pregnancy.

    Human pregnancy experience is very limited and available animal studies have shown reproductive toxicity. The potential risk for humans is unknown however tetrabenazine rapidly distributes into the brain where it reversibly depletes monoamines. As such it should not be used during pregnancy unless no alternative options are available.

    The use of all medication in pregnancy should be avoided whenever possible; particularly in the first trimester. Non-drug treatments should also be considered. When essential, a medication with the best safety record over time should be chosen, employing the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Polypharmacy should be avoided. Teratogens taken in the pre-embryonic period, often quoted as lasting until 14-17 days post-conception, are believed to have an all-or-nothing effect. Where drugs have a short half-life, and when the date of conception is certain, this may allow women to be reassured where drug exposure has occurred within this time frame. Further advice may be available from the UK National Teratology Information Service (NTIS) and through ToxBase, available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).


    Contraindicated in lactation.

    At the time of writing, there are no reports of the use of tetrabenazine during breast feeding. It is unknown if tetrabenazine is excreted into breast milk however Briggs (2015) suggests that at least the metabolites will be excreted based on the molecular weight of the parent compound (about 317) and the plasma protein binding and half-lives of the two metabolites. Common side effects observed in adults (sedation, depression, akathisia) would also present potential complications should exposure occur.

    Neonates, infants born prematurely, those with low birth weight, those with an unstable gastrointestinal function or who have serious illnesses may require special consideration. For any infant, if a drug is prescribed to the nursing mother, it should be at the lowest practical dose and for the shortest time. When drug administration is unavoidable and breastfeeding is to continue, minimisation of exposure of the infant to the drug may sometimes be achieved by timing the maternal doses to just after a feeding episode. Infants exposed to drugs via breast milk should be monitored for unusual signs or symptoms. Interactions between the drug received by the infant from the mother's milk and medication prescribed for the infant should also be considered, for example, when the drug given to the infant may prevent metabolism of the drug received via breast milk.
    Specialist advice is available from the UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory Service at


    Inform patient and carers of the risk of developing symptoms of depression and/or suicidal ideation. Advise them to report any changes to the patient's mental state.

    Advise patient and carers of the potential for orthostatic hypotension including advice to take care when standing from a sitting or lying position.

    Sedation is the most common dose-limiting side effect. Advise patient not to drive until they know how the medicine affects them.

    Side Effects

    Difficulty in swallowing
    Dry mouth
    Epigastric pain
    Extrapyramidal effects
    Gastro-intestinal symptoms
    Hypertensive crisis
    Irregular menstruation
    Memory loss
    Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
    Oculogyric crisis
    Parkinson-like symptoms
    Postural hypotension
    Sleep disturbances


    It is strongly recommended that the UK National Poisons Information Service be consulted on cases of suspected or actual overdose where there is doubt over the degree of risk or about appropriate management.

    The following number will direct the caller to the relevant local centre (0844) 892 0111

    Information may be obtained if you have access to ToxBase the primary clinical toxicology database of the National Poisons Information Service. This is available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).

    Further Information

    Last Full Review Date: October 2017

    Reference Sources

    Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation: A Reference Guide to Fetal and Neonatal Risk, 10th edition (2015) ed. Briggs, G., Freeman, R. Wolters Kluwer Health, Philadelphia.

    Summary of Product Characteristics: Tardiben 25mg tablets. AOP Orphan Pharmaceuticals. Revised May 2018.

    Summary of Product Characteristics: Tetrabenazine 25mg tablets. Sun Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Revised August 2016.

    Summary of Product Characteristics: Xenazine 25. Alliance Pharmaceuticals. Revised June 2020.

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