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All about: Albenza

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Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S.—

  • Albenza

Not commercially available in Canada.

Category

  • Anthelmintic, systemic

Description

Albendazole (al-BEN-da-zole) is used to treat infections caused by worms. Albendazole works by keeping the worm from absorbing sugar (glucose), so that the worm loses energy and dies.

Albendazole is used to treat:

  • Hydatid disease (echinococcosis);
  • Infection of the nervous system caused by pork tapeworms (neurocysticercosis).

Albendazole is available only with your doctor's prescription, in the following dosage forms:

  • Oral
  • Tablets (U.S.)

Before Using This Medicine

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For albendazole, the following should be considered:

Allergies—Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to albendazole. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as foods, preservatives, or dyes.

Pregnancy—Albendazole has not been studied in pregnant women. However, studies in animals have shown that albendazole can cause birth defects or other problems. Before taking this medicine, make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you may become pregnant. Women of childbearing age should take the medicine within 7 days after the start of their period (menstrual cycle). After a negative pregnancy test, birth control must be used during treatment and for 1 month after stopping treatment with albendazole.

Breast-feeding—Albendazole passes into animal milk. It is not known whether albendazole passes into human breast milk. Although most medicines pass into breast milk in small amounts, many of them may be used safely while breast-feeding. Mothers who are taking this medicine and who wish to breast-feed should discuss this with their doctor.

Children—Although there is very little specific information comparing use of albendazole in children with use in other age groups, this medicine is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in children than it does in adults.

Older adults—Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of albendazole in the elderly with use in other age groups.

Other medicines—Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking albendazole, it is especially important that your health care professional know if you are taking any of the following:

  • Cimetidine (e.g., Tagamet, Tagamet HB) or
  • Corticosteroids (cortisone-like medicines) or
  • Praziquantel (e.g., Biltricide)—Use of these medicines with albendazole has been shown to increase the effects of albendazole

Other medical problems—The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of albendazole. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Cysticercosis involving the eye—Patients who are being treated with albendazole for pork tapeworms of the nervous system (neurocysticercosis) should be examined for lesions in the eye; use of albendazole may increase the chance of side effects involving the eye
  • Liver disease—Patients with liver disease may have an increased chance of side effects

Proper Use of This Medicine

No special preparations (fasting, laxatives, or enemas) or other steps are necessary before, during, or immediately after treatment with albendazole.

Albendazole is best taken with meals, especially with food containing fat , to help your body absorb the medicine better.

For patients taking the tablet form of albendazole:

  • Tablets should be swallowed whole with a small amount of liquid.

To help clear up your infection completely, take this medicine exactly as directed by your doctor for the full time of treatment . In some infections, additional treatments with this medicine may be needed at 2-week intervals to clear up the infection completely. Do not miss any doses .

Dosing—The dose of albendazole will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label . The following information includes only the average doses of albendazole. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are taking albendazole .

  • For oral dosage form (tablets):
    • For hydatid disease:
      • Adults, teenagers, and children weighing 60 kilograms (132 pounds) and over—400 milligrams (mg) two times a day for twenty-eight days. Treatment may need to be repeated in fourteen days.
      • Adults, teenagers, and children weighing less than 60 kilograms (132 pounds)—15 mg per kilogram (6.8 milligrams per pound) of body weight per day divided into two doses and taken for twenty-eight days. Treatment may need to be repeated in fourteen days.
    • For infections of the nervous system caused by pork tapeworm (neurocysticercosis):
      • Adults, teenagers, and children weighing 60 kilograms (132 pounds) and over—400 milligrams (mg) two times a day for eight to thirty days.
      • For adults, teenagers, and children weighing less than 60 kilograms (132 pounds)—15 mg per kilogram (6.8 mg per pound) of body weight per day divided into two doses and taken for eight to thirty days.

Missed dose—If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage—To store this medicine:

  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Store away from heat and direct light.
  • Do not store in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down.
  • Keep the suspension form of this medicine from freezing.
  • Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed. Be sure that any discarded medicine is out of the reach of children.

Precautions While Using This Medicine

It is important that your doctor check your progress after treatment. This is to make sure that the infection is cleared up completely, and to allow your doctor to check for any unwanted effects.

If your symptoms do not improve after you have taken this medicine for the full course of treatment, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

For women of childbearing age, it is important that you use birth control while taking albendazole since this medicine can cause birth defects or other problems.

Side Effects of This Medicine

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

Rare

Fever; skin rash or itching; sore throat; unusual tiredness and weakness

Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. However, check with your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

Less common

Abdominal pain; diarrhea; dizziness; headache; nausea; vomiting

Rare

Thinning or loss of hair

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.

Additional Information

Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in product labeling in the U.S., albendazole is used in certain patients with the following infections:

  • Capillariasis;
  • Cutaneous larva migrans;
  • Common roundworms (ascariasis);
  • Hookworms (ancylostomiasis and necatoriasis);
  • Pinworms (enterobiasis or oxyuriasis);
  • Strongyloidiasis;
  • Tapeworms (taeniasis);
  • Trichostrongyliasis;
  • Whipworms (trichuriasis).

For patients taking albendazole for hookworms :

  • In hookworm infections, anemia may occur. Therefore, your doctor may want you to take iron supplements. If so, it is important to take iron every day while you are being treated for hookworm infection. Do not miss any doses. Your doctor may also want you to keep taking iron supplements for at least 3 to 6 months after you stop taking albendazole. If you have any questions about this, check with your doctor.

For patients taking albendazole for pinworms :

  • In some patients, pinworms may return after treatment with albendazole. Wear pajamas and underwear to sleep, take a bath every day, and wash (not shake) all bedding and nightclothes (pajamas) after treatment to help prevent reinfection. Treatment may be repeated after 3 weeks.
  • Pinworms may be easily passed from one person to another, especially among persons in the same household. Therefore, all household members may have to be treated at the same time to prevent their infection or reinfection.

Other than the above information, there is no additional information relating to proper use, precautions, or side effects for these uses.

Revised: 05/19/2003

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