dronabinol (Marinol, THC)

  • Medical 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 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 is dronabinol-oral, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Dronabinol (Marinol) is a man-made compound that contains cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa L). Dronabinol contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in standardized concentrations and does not contain other compounds found in street marijuana that is not approved by the FDA for medical use. Dronabinol activates cannabinoid receptors causing a wide range of effects in the brain, including short-term memory loss, euphoria, enhanced sensation, and increased appetite. It also prevents nausea and vomiting probably by inhibiting the vomiting center in the brain. Dronabinol was approved by the FDA in May 1985.

What brand names are available for dronabinol-oral?

Marinol, THC

Is dronabinol-oral available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for dronabinol-oral?

Yes

What are the side effects of dronabinol-oral?

The most common side effects of dronabinol include

Less common side effects include

Dronabinol is a controlled substance because it may be abused.

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What is the dosage for dronabinol-oral?

For appetite stimulation in AIDS patients

  • The general recommended starting dose is 2.5 mg by mouth twice daily, before lunch and dinner.
  • Patients who are having difficulty tolerating this dosage may take 2.5 mg once a day in the evening or at bedtime.
  • In patients who are tolerating dronabinol well, the dose may be slowly increased up to a maximum dose of 20 mg per day.

For nausea and vomiting

  • 5 mg per meter-squared of body surface (5 mg/m2) should be administered 1-3 hours before chemotherapy followed by repeated administration every 2 to 4 hours after chemotherapy for a total of 4 to 6 doses per day.
  • If needed, the dosage may be increased in 2.5 mg/m2 increments to a maximum of 15 mg/m2 per dose.

Which drugs or supplements interact with dronabinol-oral?

:

Although no drug-drug interactions were identified during clinical trials conducted by the manufacturer, dronabinol should be used cautiously with other medications that are known to interact with cannabinoids.

People taking dronabinol should not drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, take sedatives and hypnotics, or take other medicines that have an effect on the central nervous system. Examples of drugs to avoid include diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), alprazolam (Xanax), secobarbital (Seconal), pentobarbital (Nembutal), and phenobarbital.

Is dronabinol-oral safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies evaluating the use of dronabinol during pregnancy. Dronabinol should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefit to the mother justifies the potential risk to the unborn baby. Dronabinol is classified as FDA pregnancy risk category C. (Animal studies have shown adverse effects on the fetus, but there are no adequate studies in humans.)

Dronabinol is not recommended for use during breastfeeding because it is excreted into human milk and may have harmful effects on the nursing infant.

What else should I know about dronabinol-oral?

What preparations of dronabinol-oral are available?

Oral capsules: 2.5, 5, and 10 mg

How should I keep dronabinol-oral stored?

Dronabinol capsules should be stored in a cool location between 8 C and 15 C (46 F and 59 F ) or in the refrigerator. Capsules should not be frozen.

REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information

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Summary

Dronabinol (Marinol, THC), a compound that is man-made, is a drug prescribed to prevent nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have not responded to standard drugs to manage nausea and vomiting. Dronabinol also is prescribed to improve the appetite in patients with AIDs who have problems maintaining weight. Side effects, drug interactions, dosing, storage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to administering this medication.

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Reviewed on 7/6/2015
References
REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information

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