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Tetrabenazine Prescription
Generic Name: tetrabenazine (TET ra BEN a zeen)
Brand Name: Xenazine
Physician reviewed tetrabenazine patient information - includes tetrabenazine description, dosage and directions.
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Tetrabenazine Drug Information:

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. You may have depression or thoughts about suicide while taking tetrabenazine. Stay alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor. You should not use tetrabenazine if you have severe or untreated depression, suicidal thoughts, liver disease, or if you have taken Reserpine in the past 20 days. Learn more

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Tetrabenazine Side Effects

In Summary

Commonly reported side effects of tetrabenazine include: drowsiness, sedated state, bradykinesia, hypertonia, muscle rigidity, depression, exacerbation of depression, akathisia, and restlessness. Other side effects include: dysphagia, anxiety, and dizziness. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to tetrabenazine: oral tablet


Oral route (Tablet)

Tetrabenazine can increase the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts and behavior (suicidality). This risk must be balanced with the clinical need. Monitor patients closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers should be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber. Particular caution should be exercised in treating patients with a history of depression or prior suicide attempts or ideation. Tetrabenazine is contraindicated in patients who are actively suicidal, and in patients with untreated or inadequately treated depression.

Along with its needed effects, tetrabenazine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking tetrabenazine:

More common

  • Body aches or pain
  • chills
  • cough
  • difficulty in breathing
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • discouragement
  • drowsiness
  • ear congestion
  • fear or nervousness
  • feeling sad or empty
  • fever
  • headache
  • inability to sit still
  • irritability
  • lack of appetite
  • loss of balance control
  • loss of interest or pleasure
  • loss of voice
  • mask-like face
  • nasal congestion
  • need to keep moving
  • relaxed and calm
  • restlessness
  • runny nose
  • shuffling walk
  • sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • sleeplessness
  • slow movement or reflexes
  • slurred speech
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • stiffness of arms and legs
  • tic-like (jerky) movements of the head, face, mouth, and neck
  • tiredness
  • trembling and shaking of fingers and hands
  • trouble concentrating
  • trouble sleeping
  • trouble with balance
  • unable to sleep
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Less common

  • Burning while urinating
  • changes in patterns and rhythms of speech
  • cough producing mucus
  • difficult or painful urination
  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in chest
  • trouble in speaking
  • trouble in walking
  • wheezing

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking tetrabenazine:

Symptoms of overdose

  • Blurred vision
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position suddenly
  • fixed position of the eye
  • inability to move eyes
  • increased blinking or spasms of the eyelid
  • mood or mental changes
  • nausea and vomiting
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • shakiness in legs, arms, hands, or feet
  • sticking out of tongue
  • sweating
  • trembling or shaking of hands or feet
  • uncontrolled twisting movements of neck, trunk, arms, or legs
  • unusual facial expressions

Some side effects of tetrabenazine may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

  • Bruising
  • large, flat, blue, or purplish patches in the skin

Less common

  • Decreased appetite

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to tetrabenazine: oral tablet

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Any extrapyramidal event (33%), sedation/somnolence (31%), akathisia/hyperkinesia/restlessness (19%), parkinsonism (12%)

Common (1% to 10%): Balance difficulty, dizziness, dysarthria, unsteady gait, headache

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Altered levels of consciousness

Rare (less than 0.1%): Neuroleptic malignant syndrome

Frequency not reported: Ataxia, dyskinetic seizure, dystonia, memory impairment, amnesia

Postmarketing reports: Tremor


Very common (10% or more): Fatigue (22%), fall (15%)

Common (1% to 10%): Head laceration

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hyperthermia

Frequency not reported: Lassitude, hypothermia, weakness, lactation, irregular menstrual cycle


Very common (10% or more): Insomnia (22%), depression (19%), anxiety/aggravated anxiety (15%)

Common (1% to 10%): Irritability, obsessive reaction, agitation, confusion

Frequency not reported: Disorientation, feelings of unreality, nervousness, sleep disorders

Postmarketing reports: Worsening aggression


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (13%)

Common (1% to 10%): Vomiting, dysphagia/choking attacks, constipation, diarrhea

Frequency not reported: Dry mouth, epigastric pain, sialorrhea


Very common (10% or more): Upper respiratory tract infection (11%)

Common (1% to 10%): Shortness of breath, bronchitis

Frequency not reported: Bronchopneumonia

Postmarketing reports: Pneumonia


Common (1% to 10%): Hypotension

Frequency not reported: Hypertensive crisis, bradycardia


Common (1% to 10%): Ecchymosis

Frequency not reported: Sweating

Postmarketing reports: Hyperhidrosis, skin rash


Common (1% to 10%): Dysuria


Common (1% to 10%): Decreased appetite

Frequency not reported: Anorexia, weight gain


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Severe extrapyramidal symptoms (e.g., muscular rigidity, autonomic dysfunction)

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Skeletal muscle damage


Frequency not reported: Leukopenia


Frequency not reported: Oculogyric crisis, photophobia

Editorial References and Review

Medically reviewed by USARx EDITORIAL TEAM Last updated on 1/27/2021.

Source: Drugs.com Tetrabenazine (www.drugs.com/mtm/tetrabenazine.html).