benzonatate, Tessalon Perles; Zonatuss
Eni Williams, PharmD, PhD
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:
GENERIC NAME: benzonatate
BRAND NAME: Tessalon Perles; Zonatuss
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: 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.)
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes
PREPARATIONS: Capsules: 100, 150, and 200 mg. Capsules should be stored at room temperature, between 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
PRESCRIBED FOR: Benzonatate is used for relieving cough.
DOSING: The usual dose of benzonatate is 100 - 200 mg three times daily as needed for cough. A maximum dose of 600mg (3-6 capsules depending on the strength of the capsule) per day is recommended by the manufacturer. Capsules should be swallowed whole and they should not be broken or chewed.
DRUG INTERACTIONS: There are no known drug interactions with benzonatate.
PREGNANCY: There is very little information about the effects on the fetus of benzonatate. Physicians may use it during pregnancy if its benefits are deemed to outweigh its potential but unknown risks.
NURSING MOTHERS: It is not known whether benzonatate is secreted into breast milk.
SIDE EFFECTS: The most frequent adverse reactions of benzonatate include sedation, headache, mild dizziness, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. Nasal congestion, hallucinations, itching skin, and numbness in the chest have also been reported. It 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.
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2014
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