Phenothiazine Antipsychotics

  • 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.

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What are the side effects of phenothiazine antipsychotics?

There are many side effects of phenothiazine antipsychotics. Common side effects include:

Phenothiazine antipsychotics may cause extra-pyramidal symptoms such:

  • as abnormal muscle contractions,
  • difficulty breathing and swallowing,
  • neck spasms, and
  • movement abnormalities on face, arms, and legs.

Constipation also is common.

Phenothiazine antipsychotics can also cause neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), which include symptoms of:

All phenothiazine antipsychotics carry a boxed warning of increased deaths in elderly patients when used for dementia-related psychosis.

What drugs interact with phenothiazine antipsychotics?

Phenothiazine antipsychotics should not be combined with other antipsychotics or medications that cause extra-pyramidal side effects and neuroleptic malignant syndrome due to an increased likelihood of these side effects.

Phenothiazine antipsychotics should be used with caution with medications (for example, fluoxetine [Prozac, Sarafem, Prozac Weekly]) that reduce the activity of liver enzymes that eliminate phenothiazines because levels of phenothiazines can increase and lead to more side effects.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2014
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