Generic name: dronabinol [ droe-nah-bih-nol ]
Drug class: Miscellaneous antiemetics
Availability: Prescription only
Pregnancy & Lactation: Risk data available
What is Dronabinol?
Dronabinol is a man-made form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive substance found in cannabis (also known as marijuana).
Dronabinol is used to treat loss of appetite that causes weight loss in people with AIDS.
Dronabinol is also used to treat severe nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy. Dronabinol is usually given after medicines to control nausea and vomiting have been tried without success.
Dronabinol may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Dronabinol may cause new or worsening psychosis (unusual thoughts or behavior), especially if you have ever had depression or mental illness.
You should not use dronabinol capsules if you are allergic to sesame oil. You should not use dronabinol oral solution if you have had an allergic reaction to alcohol or if you also use disulfiram (Antabuse) or metronidazole (Flagyl).
Dronabinol can raise or lower blood pressure, especially in older adults or in people with heart problems.
Call your doctor at once if you have new or worsening mood symptoms, changes in behavior, headaches, vision problems, rapid heartbeats, or severe dizziness.
How should I take Dronabinol
Dronabinol comes as a capsule and as a solution (liquid) to take by mouth. When dronabinol capsules and solution are used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, it is usually taken 1 to 3 hours before chemotherapy and then every 2 to 4 hours after chemotherapy, for a total of 4 to 6 doses a day. The first dose of the solution is usually taken on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes before eating, but the following doses can be taken with or without food. When dronabinol capsules and solution are used to increase appetite, they are usually taken twice a day, about an hour before lunch and supper Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take dronabinol exactly as directed.
Swallow the capsules whole; do not chew or crush them.
Swallow the dronabinol solution with a full glass of water (6 to 8 ounces).
Always use the oral dosing syringe that comes with dronabinol solution to measure your dose. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about how to measure your dose of dronabinol solution.
Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of dronabinol and may gradually increase your dose. Your doctor may also decrease your dose if you experience side effects that do not go away after 1 to 3 days. Be sure to tell your doctor how you are feeling during your treatment with dronabinol.
Dronabinol may be habit forming. Do not take a larger dose, take it more often, or take it for a longer period of time than prescribed by your doctor. Call your doctor if you find that you want to take extra medication.
Dronabinol will control your symptoms only as long as you take the medication. Continue to take dronabinol even if you feel well. Do not stop taking dronabinol without talking to your doctor. If you suddenly stop taking dronabinol, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, restlessness, hot flashes, sweating, runny nose, diarrhea, hiccups, and loss of appetite.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a copy of the manufacturer's information for the patient.
Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Use the medicine exactly as directed. Tell your doctor if you feel an increased urge to use more of this medicine.
Dronabinol may be habit-forming. Misuse can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.
To stimulate appetite in people with AIDS, dronabinol is usually taken 1 hour before lunch and 1 hour before dinner.
To prevent nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy:
Take your first dose on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before eating.
After your first dose, you may take dronabinol with or without food but take it at the same time in relation to your mealtimes for each treatment for chemotherapy.
Dronabinol is usually given 1 to 3 hours before your chemotherapy treatment, and then every 2 to 4 hours (up to 6 doses per day).
Older adults may need to take this medicine less often. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.
Swallow the capsule whole and do not crush, chew, break, or open it.
Measure liquid medicine carefully. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).
Take the liquid medicine with a full glass of water.
You may need to follow a special diet while using dronabinol. Follow all instructions of your doctor or dietitian. Learn about the foods you should eat to help boost your food intake.
Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, or if they get worse while using dronabinol.
Do not stop using dronabinol suddenly after long-term use, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.
Store the capsules or unopened liquid medicine in a tightly-closed container in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.
You may also store the capsules at cool room temperature, away from moisture and heat. After opening the liquid medicine, store it at room temperature. Throw away any unused liquid 42 days after opening the bottle.Dronabinol Dosage information (more detail)
You should not use dronabinol if you are allergic to it.
You should not take dronabinol capsules if you are allergic to sesame oil.
Dronabinol oral solution (liquid medicine) contains alcohol. You should not take dronabinol liquid if you have ever had an allergic reaction to alcohol or if you also use disulfiram (Antabuse) or metronidazole (Flagyl). Do not take dronabinol liquid within 14 days after or 7 days before using disulfiram or metronidazole.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had:
an allergy to any medication;
epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
heart problems, high or low blood pressure, fainting spells, fast heartbeats;
alcoholism or drug addiction; or
depression, mental illness, or psychosis.
It is not known whether dronabinol will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
HIV can be passed to your baby if you are not properly treated during pregnancy. If you have HIV or AIDS, take all of your medicines as directed to control your infection.
Women with HIV or AIDS should not breastfeed a baby. Even if your baby is born without HIV, the virus may be passed to the baby in your breast milk. However, if you are being treated for nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy and you are breastfeeding, your doctor should check the weight of your baby often.
Dronabinol is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
Overdose symptoms may include changes in mood, memory problems, little or no urinating, constipation, loss of energy, problems with speech or coordination, or feeling light-headed.
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store capsules in a cool place (between 46-59 °F, 8-15 °C) or in the refrigerator. Do not allow the capsules to freeze. Store the unopened dronabinol solution in the container in the refrigerator. Once opened, the dronabinol solution can be stored at room temperature for up to 28 days. Keep medication away from heat, direct light, and moisture.
Store dronabinol in a safe place so that no one else can take it accidentally or on purpose. Keep track of how many capsules and solution are remaining so you will know if any medication is missing.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Talk to your doctor or nutritionist and read the manufacturer's information for the patient to find out about ways to encourage yourself to eat when your appetite is poor and about which types of foods are the best choices for you.
Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking dronabinol oral solution.
What should I avoid while using Dronabinol?
Do not use marijuana while taking dronabinol.
Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how dronabinol will affect you. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents.
Do not drink alcohol while taking dronabinol.
Dronabinol side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, skin rash or burning; mouth sores; warmth, redness, or tingly feeling; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Dronabinol may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:
fast or pounding heartbeats;
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
confusion, trouble sleeping, problems with memory or concentration;
unusual changes in mood or behavior;
restlessness, feeling nervous or irritable;
slurred speech, drowsiness;
severe or ongoing nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain; or
increased blood pressure--severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears.
Common side effects of dronabinol may include:
dizziness, drowsiness, thinking problems;
unusual thoughts or fears;
feelings of extreme happiness; or
nausea, vomiting, stomach pain.
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.See more: Dronabinol Side Effects
What other drugs will affect Dronabinol?
Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.
Using dronabinol with other drugs that make you drowsy can worsen this effect. Ask your doctor before using opioid medication, a sleeping pill, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety or seizures.
Other drugs may affect dronabinol, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Your dronabinol (Marinol®) prescription may be refilled only a limited number of times.
If you are taking dronabinol (Syndros®), it is not refillable. Be sure to schedule appointments with your doctor so that you do not run out of dronabinol (Syndros®) if you are to take this medication on a regular basis.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.