misoprostol, Cytotec

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • 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.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

woman with abdominal pain

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

Misoprostol is a synthetic (man-made) prostaglandin that is used to reduce the risk of stomach ulcers in patients treated with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, for example, aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) that are used for pain and various inflammatory conditions, for example, arthritis. Misoprostol is used primarily in patients at high risk for stomach ulcers when treated with NSAIDs, for example, the elderly, patients with concomitant debilitating diseases, and patients with a history of ulcers. Prostaglandins are chemicals that are made within many organs of the body including the stomach. In the stomach, prostaglandins are believed to protect the inner lining of the stomach from the ulcer-producing effects of NSAIDs. Scientists now believe that NSAIDs produce ulceration by preventing the production of prostaglandins in the stomach. Synthetic prostaglandins such as misoprostol given orally "replace" the prostaglandins whose production is inhibited by NSAIDs and have been shown to protect the lining of the stomach from NSAID-induced ulcers. Misoprostol was approved by the FDA in December 1988.

What brand names are available for misoprostol?

Cytotec

Is misoprostol available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for misoprostol?

Yes

What are the side effects of misoprostol?

Common side effects include diarrhea and abdominal pain. Diarrhea is more common with higher doses and usually resolves with continued administration. Rarely, profound and persistent diarrhea necessitates stopping the drug. Less common side effects include headache, menstrual cramps, nausea, and flatulence. Allergic reactions have also been reported.

Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Digestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

What is the dosage for misoprostol?

The recommended adult oral dose for reducing the risk of NSAID-induced gastric ulcers is 200 mcg four times daily (every 6 hours) with food. If this dose cannot be tolerated, a dose of 100 mcg every 6 hours can be used. The last dose should be taken at bedtime.

For termination of pregnancy the dose is 400 mcg once if abortion has not occurred within 3 days of receiving mifepristone (Mifeprex).

Which drugs or supplements interact with misoprostol?

: Misoprostol has no clinically important drug interactions.

Is misoprostol safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

Misoprostol should never be used during pregnancy since it can cause abortion, premature birth, or birth defects. Uterine rupture has been reported when misoprostol was administered to pregnant women to induce labor or to induce abortion beyond the eighth week of pregnancy.

It is not known if misoprostol is excreted in human milk; however it should not be administered to nursing mothers because it could cause significant diarrhea in nursing infants.

What else should I know about misoprostol?

What preparations of misoprostol are available?

Tablets: 100 and 200 mcg.

How should I keep misoprostol stored?

Tablets should be kept in a dry area with temperatures at or below 25 C (77 F)

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

Last Editorial Review: 9/17/2014

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See more info: misoprostol on RxList
Reviewed on 9/17/2014
References
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

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