Tetrabenazine is used to treat involuntary movements associated with Huntington's chorea.


What is Tetrabenazine?

Tetrabenazine works by reducing the amount of certain chemicals in the brain (such as dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin). Its exact mechanism of action has not yet been identified.


How should Tetrabenazine be taken?

Tetrabenazine is administered orally.


Side effects associated with Tetrabenazine

Taking tetrabenazine can trigger neuroleptic malignant syndrome. It can also be associated with the appearance of uncontrollable movements and it can increase the level of prolactin in the blood.


Among the other possible side effects of tetrabenazine include the following:


  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting


It is important to contact a doctor immediately if you experience:


  • Rash
  • Urticaria
  • Itch
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Swelling of the mouth, face, lips or tongue
  • Fainting
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Persistent cough or strange cough
  • New muscle problems or aggravation of existing ones
  • Involuntary movements of the face, mouth, jaw or tongue
  • Psychological or behavioral disorders (new or aggravated)
  • Problems of persisting insomnia
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Severe or persistent dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Vision problems


Contraindications and warnings associated with the use of Tetrabenazine

Tetrabenazine is contraindicated in case of suicidal thoughts, depression left untreated or not controlled by drugs, impaired liver function, long QT syndrome or irregular heartbeat. It should also be taken in combination with some medications that can affect heart function. These medications include certain antibiotics, certain antiarrhythmics, some medications for psychological problems or mood disorders, or any MAO inhibitors or reserpine taken in the last 20 days.  

Tetrabenazine may impair the ability to drive or operate hazardous machinery, especially when taken together with alcohol or other drugs. In addition, the dizziness associated with its intake can be aggravated by high temperatures, physical activity and fever.


Before starting treatment with tetrabenazine, it is important to tell your doctor if:


  • You have any allergies to the active substance, its excipients or to any other drugs or food
  • You are taking any other medications, herbal remedies or supplements. Mentioning in particular:  antibiotics, drugs for irregular heartbeat, drugs for behavioral or psychiatric problems, duloxetine, fluoxetine, neuroleptic drugs, paroxetine, reserpine, sertraline, terbinafine and MAO inhibitors
  • You are suffering (or have suffered) from depression, suicidal thoughts, psychological problems or mood disorders, heart disease, electrolyte imbalance (such as potassium or magnesium deficiency in the blood) or poor metabolism of CYP2D6
  • You have recently experienced a myocardial infarction
  • You are pregnant or breast-feeding