• Pharmacy Author:
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  • 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?


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.

What is the dosage for benzonatate?

  • 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.

Which drugs or supplements interact with benzonatate?

There are no known drug interactions with benzonatate.

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

  • 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.

What else should I know about benzonatate?

What preparations of benzonatate are available?

Capsules: 100, 150, and 200 mg.

How should I keep benzonatate stored?

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

Quick GuideCold and Flu: Finding Relief for Your Cough

Cold and Flu: Finding Relief for Your Cough


Benzonatate (Tessalon Perles, Zonatuss - discontinued in the US) is an oral medication prescribed to suppress cough. Benzonatate begins to work on suppressing a person's cough within 15 to 20 minutes. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy and safety in children information should be reviewed with a physician prior to taking this medication.

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See more info: benzonatate on RxList
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information