Albenza

1 What is Albenza?

Brand: Albenza

Generic: Albendazole

Albenza is available as a chewable or a tablet, and is used to treat worms. Specifically, this medicine helps in treating neurocysticercosis, and infection of the nervous system caused by pork tapeworms, and cystic hydatid disease of the liver, lung and peritoneum, an infection caused by dog tapeworms.

Albendazole works by keeping the worm from absorbing glucose (sugar), so that the worm loses energy and dies.

Albendazole is only available through a doctor’s prescription.

Once a medication has been approved for marketing for a specific use, experience may show that it can be useful in treating other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in the product labeling in the United States, Albendazole may be used in certain patients with the following infections:

For patients taking Albendazole for hookworms

Your doctor may want to put you on iron supplements, as anemia may occur in hookworm infections. It is important that you take iron every day while you are being treated for hookworm infection, and not miss any doses.

Your doctor may also want you to take iron supplements for at least 3-6 months after you stop taking Albendazole. If you have any questions, you should contact your doctor.

For patients taking Albendazole for pinworms

Pinworms may return after treatment with Albendazole in some patients. Wear pajamas and underwear to sleep each night and take a bath or shower every day. Wash all bedding and nightclothes after treatment to prevent re-infection. Do not shake your bedding. Treatment may be repeated after three weeks.

Pinworms are easily passed between people, especially among people in the same household. Because of this, all members of the household may have to be treated at the same time to prevent their infection or re-infection.

2 What To Know Before Using

As with all medicines, the risks of using Albenza must be compared to how much a medication will help you. This is a decision that you and your doctor will make together.

For Albendazole, there are many things that need to be considered:

  • Allergies - Inform your doctor if you have ever had an allergic reaction to Albendazole or to any other medications. It is also important to inform your doctor of any non-medicine allergies such as foods, dyes, preservatives or animals.
  • Pediatric - Up-to-date studies have not indicated that the use of Albendazole causes any problems that would limit the use of this medicine in children. However, hydatid disease (a tapeworm infection) is uncommon in children.
  • Geriatric - Although studies on the relationship of age to the effects of Albendazole have not been performed in the geriatric population, no problems have been documented in the use of Albendazole with the elderly.
  • Pregnancy - This medication is listed as Pregnancy Category C. This means that animal studies have shown an adverse effect and no studies have been performed on pregnant women OR there are no adequate studies on pregnant animals and pregnant women.
  • Breastfeeding - Studies suggest that this medication poses little risk to an infant when used during breastfeeding.
  • Drug Interactions - Using Albendazole with any of the following may cause an increased risk with certain side-effects. In some cases this may be unavoidable. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you take the medication.
    • Grapefruit Juice
  • Other Medical Problems - The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of Albendazole.Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
    • Bone Marrow Problems (agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia, granulocytopenia, pancytopenia) - Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
    • Cystercosis involving the eye - Patients who are being treated with albendazole for neurocysticercosis should be examined for lesions in the eye. Using this medication may increase your risk of side effects involving the eye.
    • Liver disease
    • Elevated Liver Enzymes - Use with caution. May increase risk for more serious side effects.
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3 Proper Usage

Only take Albenza as directed by your doctor. Do not take more, less or for a longer or shorter period of time than your doctor tells you.

Take this medication with meals, especially with food containing fat, to help your body absorb it better.

You may crush or chew the tablet and swallow it with water. If you have difficulty with swallowing, you may take the chewable tablet.

If you are taking this medication for neurocysticercosis, your doctor will give you additional medications while taking this medication.

Dosing

Different patients will be given a different dose of this medication based on the strength of the medication. The number of doses you take each day, the time between doses and the length of time you take this medication depends on the reason you are taking this medication.

The following information only includes the average dose of this medication. If your dose is different, do not change it without first speaking to your doctor.

For hydatid disease of the liver, lung and peritoneum

  • Adults weighing 60 kg or more - Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is normally 400 mg twice a day, taken with meals for 28 days. This is followed by not taking this medication for 14 days, for a total of 3 cycles.
  • Adults weighing less than 60 kg - Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is normally 15 mg per kg of body weight per day, divided into 2 doses, taken with meals for 28 days. This is followed by not taking this medication for 14 days, for a total of 3 cycles.
  • Children - Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

For neurocysticercosis

  • Adults and children weighing 60 kg or more - Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is normally 400 mg twice a day, taken with meals for 8-30 days.
  • Adults and children weighing less than 60 kg - Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is normally 15 mg per kg of body weight per day, divided into 2 doses, taken with meals for 8-30 days.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of this medication, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your normal dosing schedule. Do not double dose.

Storage

Store this medication in a closed container at room temperature. Keep it away form heat, moisture and direct light. Do not freeze.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep expired medication or medication you no longer need. Ask your doctor how to dispose of any medication you do not use.

4 Precautions to Take

It is very important that your doctor checks in with the you often while you are receiving Albenza to make sure that it is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

If your symptoms do not improve after you take this medication for the full course of treatment, or if they become worse, inform your doctor.

For women of childbearing age, it is important that you use an effective form of birth control while using this medication and for at least 1 month after your last dose. Your doctor should give you a pregnancy test before you start the medication to make sure you are not pregnant.

This medication can temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood, increasing the chances of getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets, which are necessary for proper blood clotting.

If this occurs, there are certain precautions you can take, especially if your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of an infection or bleeding:

  • Avoid people with infections as best as you can. Tell your doctor immediately if you think you are getting an infection or if you get a fever or chills, cough or hoarseness, lower back or side pain, or painful or difficult urination.
  • Tell your doctor immediately if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising, black or tarry stool, blood in the urine or stool, or red spots on the skin.
  • Be careful when using a toothbrush, dental floss or toothpick. Your doctor, dentist or nurse may recommend other ways to clean your teeth and gums. Be sure to ask your doctor before any dental work is done.
  • Do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have just washed your hands and have not touched anything else in the meantime.
  • Be careful not to cut yourself when using sharp objects such as a shaving razor or fingernail cutters.
  • Avoid contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury could occur.

For patients being treated for neurocysticercosis, this medication may increase your risk for increased pressure in the head or seizures. 

Inform your doctor immediately if you have pain or tenderness in

  • The upper stomach,
  • Pale stool,
  • Dark urine,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting
  • Yellow skin or eyes (Jaundice).

These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.

Do not take other over the counter or prescription medications unless they have been discussed with your doctor.

5 Potential Side Effects

Albenza may produce unwanted affects along with the intended effects. Although not all of these side-effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following side-effects:

Less Common

Rare

Some side effects that may occur do not normally need medical attention. These may leave as your body becomes accustomed to treatment. Ask your doctor about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Talk to your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome, or if you have questions:

More Common

Less Common

Rare

Some patients may experience other side effects that are not listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any other side effects.

Ask your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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