Dronabinol

Dronabinol treats nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and loss of appetite associated with AIDS. Swallow capsules whole, and do not break capsules open.

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Dronabinol Overview

Updated: 

Dronabinol is a prescription medication used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy and is used to treat loss of appetite and weight loss in people who have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Dronabinol belongs to a group of drugs called cannabinoids. Dronabinol is a synthetic version of delta-9-THC, a naturally occurring cannabinoid and the main psychoactive component in marijuana. While it is unknown exactly how Dronabinol works, the drug is believed to produce its effects by binding to cannabinoid receptors found in the central nervous system.

This medication comes in capsule form and is taken 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.

When dronabinol is used to increase appetite, it is usually taken 2 times a day, before lunch and supper, or once a day in the evening or at bedtime.

Do not chew, divide, or break dronabinol capsules. Swallow dronabinol capsules whole.

Common side effects of dronabinol include dose related "high" (easy laughing and elevated mood), dizziness, confusion, and drowsiness.

Do not  drive, operate heavy machinery, or engage in hazardous activity until you know how dronabinol affects you.

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Uses of Dronabinol

Dronabinol is a prescription medication used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in people who have already taken other medications to treat this type of nausea and vomiting without good results. Dronabinol is also used to treat loss of appetite and weight loss in people who have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

 

Dronabinol Brand Names

Dronabinol may be found in some form under the following brand names:

Dronabinol Drug Class

Dronabinol is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Dronabinol

Common side effects of dronabinol include the following:

  • "high" (easy laughing and elevated mood)
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • fast heartbeat
  • changes in mood

This is not a complete list of dronabinol side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Dronabinol Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Dronabinol has the potential to interact with other medications and increase the risk of side effects.

Dronabinol capsules should be used with caution in patients receiving concomitant therapy with sedatives, hypnotics or other psychoactive drugs because of the potential for additive or synergistic CNS effects.

Dronabinol Precautions

Dronabinol capsules should be used with caution in patients with a history of seizure disorder because dronabinol capsules may lower the seizure threshold.

Dronabinol capsules should be used with caution in patients with cardiac disorders because of occasional hypotension, possible hypertension, syncope, or tachycardia.

Dronabinol capsules should be used with caution in patients with a history of substance abuse, including alcohol abuse or dependence, because they may be more prone to abuse dronabinol capsules as well. Multiple substance abuse is common and marijuana, which contains the same active compound, is a frequently abused substance.

Dronabinol capsules should be used with caution and careful psychiatric monitoring in patients with mania, depression, or schizophrenia because dronabinol capsules may exacerbate these illnesses.

Dronabinol capsules should be used with caution in patients receiving concomitant therapy with sedatives, hypnotics or other psychoactive drugs because of the potential for additive or synergistic CNS effects.

Dronabinol capsules should be used with caution in elderly patients because they may be more sensitive to the neurological, psychoactive, and postural hypotensive effects of the drug.

Dronabinol Food Interactions

Medications can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of dronabinol, there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving this medication

Inform MD

Before taking dronabinol, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Especially tell your doctor if you:

  • are allergic to dronabinol or to any of its ingredients including sesame oil
  • have a history of seizure disorder
  • have a history of substance (drug or alcohol) abuse
  • have heart problems
  • have high blood pressure
  • have a history of schizophrenia or other psychiatric conditions
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding

Dronabinol and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

Dronabinol falls into category C.

There are no well-controlled studies that have been done in pregnant women. Dronabinol should be used during pregnancy only if the possible benefit outweighs the possible risk to the unborn baby.

Dronabinol and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

Dronabinol has been detected in human breast milk. Because of the possibility for adverse reactions in nursing infants from dronabinol, a choice should be made whether to stop nursing or to stop use of this medication. The importance of the drug to the mother should be considered.

Dronabinol Usage

  • Dronabinol comes in a capsule form. It is taken by mouth. 
  • It is usually taken later in the day. 
  • Swallow dronabinol capsules whole. Do not crush, chew, or break the capsules.
  • This medication may be given 1 to 3 hours before cancer chemotherapy and then every 2 to 4 hours after chemotherapy, for a total of 4 to 6 doses a day.
  • For appetite stimulation in people with AIDS, dronabinol is usually taken before lunch and dinner.

Dronabinol Dosage

Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The dose your doctor recommends may be based on the following:

  • the condition being treated
  • other medical conditions you have
  • other medications you are taking
  • how you respond to this medication
  • your weight
  • your height
  • your age

The standard initial dronabinol dose for appetite stimulation in people with AIDS is 2.5 mg twice daily: before lunch and before dinner.

Your doctor will determine your dronabinol dosage based on your body surface area, which is usually calculated using your height and weight.

 
 

Dronabinol Overdose

If you take too much dronabinol seek emergency medical attention.