Why is this medication prescribed?
Riluzole is used to slow the progress of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease). The drug also may delay the need for a tracheostomy (breathing tube), but it is not a cure for ALS.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How should this medicine be used?
Riluzole comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It usually is taken twice a day, every 12 hours. You should take it at the same time each day (usually in the morning and in the evening). Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take riluzole exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Riluzole slows progression of ALS but does not cure it. Continue to take riluzole even if you feel well. Do not stop taking riluzole without talking to your doctor.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking riluzole,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to riluzole or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially amitriptyline (Elavil), caffeine-containing products, ciprofloxacin (Cipro), ofloxacin (Floxin), omeprazole (Prilosec), rifampin (Rifadin), theophylline (Theo-Dur), and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had blood disorders or anemia or kidney or liver disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking riluzole, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking riluzole.
- 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.
- 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 special dietary instructions should I follow?
Take riluzole on an empty stomach (1 hour before or 2 hours after meals). Do not drink or eat a lot of caffeine-containing products, such as coffee, tea, cola, or chocolate. Avoid eating charcoal-broiled foods.
What should I do if I forget 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 side effects can this medication cause?
Riluzole may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- upset stomach
- stomach pain
- muscle weakness or aches
- loss of appetite
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- difficulty breathing
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, away from light and excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
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.
In case of emergency/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 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 riluzole.
Riluzole can affect your body's ability to fight infection. If you have any illness, especially one with a fever, call your doctor.
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.