benzonatate (Tessalon Perles, Zonatuss - discontinued in the US)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Eni Williams, PharmD, PhD

    Dr. Eni Williams graduated from Creighton University in 1988 with a B.S. degree in pharmacy and a Doctor of Pharmacy from Howard University in 1994. She also obtained a Ph.D. in Public Policy in 2009 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is benzonatate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

  • Benzonatate is a medication taken orally to suppress coughs. It has an anesthetic (numbing) action similar to that of benzocaine and numbs the stretch sensors in the lungs. It is the stretching of these sensors with breathing that causes the cough. Benzonatate begins to work within 15 to 20 minutes, and its effects last for approximately 3 to 8 hours. Benzonatate is unrelated to narcotics such as codeine which are frequently used to suppress coughs. (Another frequently used cough suppressant, dextromethorphan, which is found in many over-the-counter cough and cold preparations, is a derivative of the narcotics.)

What brand names are available for benzonatate?

Tessalon Perles

Is benzonatate available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

What are the uses for benzonatate?

Benzonatate is used for relieving cough.

What are the side effects of benzonatate?

The most frequent adverse reactions of benzonatate include:

Other side effects that have been reported include:

Severe hypersensitivity reactions (including airway spasms and cardiovascular collapse) may occur from sucking or chewing the capsule instead of swallowing it.

Benzonatate should not be used in children who are less than 10 years of age because unintentional overdose and death have been reported in this age group.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2016

Quick GuideTips to Calm Your Cough in Pictures

Tips to Calm Your Cough in Pictures
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