Studies have shown that older adults with dementia (a brain disorder that affects the ability to remember, think clearly, communicate, and perform daily activities and that may cause changes in mood and personality) who take antipsychotics (medications for mental illness) such as fluphenazine have an increased risk of death during treatment.
Fluphenazine is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of behavior problems in older adults with dementia. Talk to the doctor who prescribed this medication if you, a family member, or someone you care for has dementia and is taking fluphenazine. For more information visit the FDA website: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs
Why is this medicine prescribed?
Fluphenazine is an antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and hostility.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How should this medicine be used?
Fluphenazine comes as a tablet or oral liquid (elixir and concentrate) to take by mouth. It is usually taken two or three times a day and may be taken with or without food. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take fluphenazine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Fluphenazine oral liquid comes with a specially marked dropper for measuring the dose. Ask your pharmacist to show you how to use the dropper. Do not allow the liquid to touch your skin or clothing; it can cause skin irritation. Dilute the concentrate in water, Seven-Up, carbonated orange beverage, milk, or V-8, pineapple, apricot, prune, orange, tomato, or grapefruit juice just before taking it. Do not use beverages containing caffeine (coffee, tea, and cola) or apple juice.
Continue to take fluphenazine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking fluphenazine without talking to your doctor, especially if you have taken large doses for a long time. Your doctor probably will want to decrease your dose gradually. This drug must be taken regularly for a few weeks before its full effect is felt.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking fluphenazine,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to fluphenazine or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription drugs you are taking or have taken within the last 2 weeks, especially antidepressants; antihistamines; bromocriptine (Parlodel); diet pills; lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid); medication for high blood pressure, seizures, Parkinson's disease, asthma, colds, or allergies; meperidine (Demerol); methyldopa (Aldomet); muscle relaxants; propranolol (Inderal); sedatives; sleeping pills; thyroid medications, tranquilizers; and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had glaucoma, an enlarged prostate, difficulty urinating, seizures, an overactive thyroid gland, trouble keeping your balance, or liver, kidney, or heart disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, especially if you are in the last few months of your pregnancy, or if you plan to become pregnant or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking fluphenazine, call your doctor. Fluphenazine may cause problems in newborns following delivery if it is taken during the last months of pregnancy.
- you should know that this drug may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this drug affects you.
- you should know that fluphenazine may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking fluphenazine.
- remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this drug.
- tell your doctor if you use tobacco products. Cigarette smoking may decrease the effectiveness of this drug.
What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What should I do in case of overdose?
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help . If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
What side effects can this medicine cause?
Side effects from fluphenazine are common:
- upset stomach
- weakness or tiredness
- excitement or anxiety
- dry mouth
- skin more sensitive to sunlight than usual
- changes in appetite or weight
Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- difficulty urinating
- frequent urination
- blurred vision
- dizziness, feeling unsteady, or having trouble keeping your balance
- changes in sex drive or ability
- excessive sweating
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- jaw, neck, and back muscle spasms
- slow or difficult speech
- shuffling walk
- persistent fine tremor or inability to sit still
- fever, chills, sore throat, or flu-like symptoms
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- severe skin rash
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- irregular heartbeat
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch ) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
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 it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
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.
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
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to fluphenazine.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
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.