Riluzole slows the progression of ALS. Avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol. Take this medication on an empty stomach.

Riluzole Overview

Reviewed: June 1, 2012

Riluzole is a prescription medication used to slow the progress of Lou Gehrig's disease, known medically as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It is a disease of the central nervous system that affects the ability of a person to move certain muscles. Riluzole is not a cure, but may delay the need for a breathing tube (tracheostomy).

Riluzole belongs to a group of drugs called NMDA receptor antagonists. It works by decreasing glutamate, a natural substance in the body that can damage nerve cells. 

This medication comes in tablet form. It is usually taken twice a day, every 12 hours, on an empty stomach.

Common side effects of riluzole are weakness, nausea, and headache.

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Riluzole Cautionary Labels


Uses of Riluzole

Riluzole is a prescription medication used to slow the progress of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease).

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


Riluzole Brand Names

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

Riluzole Drug Class

Riluzole is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Riluzole

The most common side effects of riluzole that occurred during medical studies were weakness, nausea, lung function decrease (not associated with a reduction in vital capacity), headache, nasal symptoms, muscle tightness, abdominal pain, and high blood pressure. If any side effects become troublesome, contact your doctor.

Riluzole Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:

  • amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • caffeine-containing products
  • ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • ofloxacin (Floxin)
  • omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • rifampin (Rifadin)
  • theophylline (Theo-Dur)
  • vitamins

This is not a complete list of riluzole drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Riluzole Precautions

  • You should not take riluzole if you are allergic to any of its ingredients.
  • Your doctor should do blood tests to check your liver function before and during your treatment. Call your doctor if you have a fever, cough, or difficulty in breathing while taking riluzole.
  • Riluzole may cause you to feel dizzy, light-headed, or sleepy. If you experience any of these, you should NOT drive a vehicle or use machinery.
  • If you miss or skip a dose of riluzole, do not take any extra tablets to make up for those you missed, but take your prescribed dose at the next regularly scheduled time.
  • When taking riluzole, avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol; alcohol may contribute to compromising liver function and may be associated with an increased risk of liver problems.

Riluzole Food Interactions

Avoid coffee, tea, cola, or other products that contain caffeine. Caffeine may cause too much riluzole to build up in your body.

Inform MD

Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all other medicines you are taking, including nonprescription products and vitamins. If you have questions, please talk to your doctor.

Before you take riluzole, tell your doctor if you:

  • are allergic to riluzole or any other medicines.
  • have or have ever had blood disorders or anemia.
  • have kidney or liver disease.
  • are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking riluzole, call your doctor.
  • use tobacco products. Cigarette smoking may decrease the effectiveness of this drug.

Riluzole and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if riluzole will harm your unborn baby.

Riluzole and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if riluzole is excreted in human breast milk or if it will harm your nursing baby.

Riluzole Usage

Riluzole tablets should be taken by mouth, at least an hour before, or two hours after meals. You should take it at the same time each day (usually in the morning and in the evening). Continue taking riluzole even if you feel well, unless your doctor tells you to stop. Riluzole does not cure ALS. It slows the progression of ALS.

Riluzole Dosage

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

The recommended dose for riluzole is 50 mg every 12 hours. No increased benefit can be expected from higher daily doses, but adverse events are increased.


Riluzole Overdose

If you take too much riluzole, call your local Poison Control Center or seek emergency medical attention right away.

Other Requirements

Store at controlled room temperature 20°–25°C (68°–77°F) and protect from bright light. KEEP OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN.