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.

View the Finding Relief for Your Cough Slideshow

PREPARATIONS: Capsules: 100, 150, and 200 mg.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: There are no known drug interactions with benzonatate.

PREGNANCY AND BREASTFEEDING SAFETY:

  • 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.
  • It is not known whether benzonatate is secreted into breast milk.

STORAGE: Capsules should be stored at room temperature, between 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).

DOSING:

  • The usual dose of benzonatate is 100-200 mg three times daily as needed for cough.
  • A maximum dose of 600 mg (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 sucked, broken, or chewed.

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.)

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2016

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