scopolamine, Transderm-Scop

  • 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.

woman with abdominal pain

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

Scopolamine is an oral, intravenous, ophthalmic or topical drug with many uses including the prevention of motion sickness. Transderm Scop is scopolamine administered topically (through the skin or transdermally) via a special delivery system that gradually releases scopolamine onto the skin over a period of three days. Scopolamine is absorbed into the body through the skin. It is not clear how scopolamine prevents nausea and vomiting due to motion sickness. The vestibular part of the ear is very important for balance. When a person who is susceptible to motion sickness experiences motion, the vestibule sends a signal through nerves to the vomiting center in the brain, and vomiting occurs. Acetylcholine is a chemical that nerves use to transmit messages to each other (a neurotransmitter). Scientists believe that scopolamine prevents communication between the nerves of the vestibule and the vomiting center in the brain by blocking the action of acetylcholine (anticholinergic effect). Scopolamine also may work directly on the vomiting center. Scopolamine must be taken before the onset of motion sickness to be effective. The FDA approved Transderm Scop in December 1979.

What brand names are available for scopolamine?

Transderm Scop

Is scopolamine available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: No

Do I need a prescription for scopolamine?

Yes

What are the side effects of scopolamine?

The most common side effects are:

Scopolamine may worsen narrow angle glaucoma, cause difficulty urinating and lead to dry, itchy eyes. Some patients may experience disorientation and confusion. If used more than 3 days some patients may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, and dizziness. Some patches may cause burns of the skin if worn during an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. Patients should tell their health care professional that they are using a medication patch prior to receiving an MRI scan, and the patch should be removed.

Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

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What is the dosage for scopolamine?

To prevent nausea after surgery 1 patch is applied behind the ear (both ears for caesarian section) 1 hour before surgery and left in place for 24 hours.

The recommended adult dose for preventing motion sickness is one disc every three days. The disc is applied to the hairless area behind the ear at least 4 hours before the effects are desired. If therapy is needed for more than three days, the first disc is discarded, and a second disc is applied behind the opposite ear. To prevent contact with eyes and visual disturbances, the hands should be washed with soap and water after handling the patch.

Which drugs or supplements interact with scopolamine?

Alcohol, tranquilizers, sedatives, and other drugs that cause drowsiness may worsen the drowsiness caused by scopolamine. Scopolamine slows passage of materials including drugs through the stomach and intestines. This may reduce the absorption of some drugs. Drugs that have anticholinergic effects increase the anticholinergic side effects of scopolamine. Examples of such drugs include belladonna alkaloids, antihistamines (including meclizine [Antivert, Bonine, Meni-D, Antrizine]), tricyclic antidepressants, and muscle relaxants.

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

Use in pregnant women has not been adequately evaluated.

Scopolamine is excreted in breast milk.

What else should I know about scopolamine?

What preparations of scopolamine are available?

Disc (Patch): 1 mg over 72 hours

How should I keep scopolamine stored?

Transderm Scop should be stored at room temperature 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F).

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Digestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Summary

Scopolamine (Transderm-Scop) is a medication prescribed for the prevention of nausea and vomiting after surgery and from motion sickness. Side effects, drug interactions, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.

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See more info: scopolamine on RxList
Reviewed on 10/12/2015
References
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

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