Procyclidine - Arpicolin, Kemadrin

Procyclidine is used to relieve unwanted side-effects caused by antipsychotic medicines.

It is usually prescribed as a three times daily dose, but you may be advised to take it more or less often than this. Take it exactly as your doctor tells you to.

The most common side-effects are a dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, and difficulties passing urine.

Type of medicine An antimuscarinic medicine
Used for Unwanted 'extrapyramidal side-effects' caused by some medicines
Also called Arpicolin®; Kemadrin®
Available as Tablets, oral liquid, and injection

Procyclidine is used to relieve unwanted side-effects caused by some antipsychotic medicines. Antipsychotic medicines are prescribed for mental health problems such as schizophrenia. As a side-effect of treatment, antipsychotic medicines can sometimes cause unwanted body movements, some of which may be severe. These movement disorders are often referred to as 'extrapyramidal side-effects' and include things like uncontrolled face and body movements, tremor, and restlessness. Procyclidine is prescribed to relieve these types of symptoms.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking procyclidine it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have any problems with the way your liver works, or the way your kidneys work.
  • If you have any problems with your heart or blood vessels.
  • If you have prostate problems, or if you have been experiencing difficulty passing urine.
  • If you have been constipated for more than a week.
  • If you have a condition which causes raised pressure in your eyes, such as glaucoma.
  • If you have high blood pressure.
  • If you have a condition causing muscle weakness called myasthenia gravis.
  • If you have ever had a mental health problem called psychosis.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about procyclidine and a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take procyclidine exactly as your doctor tells you to. When starting your treatment your doctor will give you a small dose (usually half a tablet or 5 ml liquid medicine three times daily), and then may gradually increase your dose. Carefully follow the directions your doctor gives to you. Although procyclidine is usually prescribed as a three times daily dose, you may be advised to take it more or less often than this.
  • It is not important whether you take procyclidine before or after food, although some people find taking it with meals helps prevent feelings of sickness.
  • Try to take your doses of procyclidine at the same times of day, each day. This will help you to remember to take your doses regularly.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with procyclidine. Some antihistamines and some strong painkillers can interfere with procyclidine and increase the risk of side-effects.
  • If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking procyclidine.
  • If you have been taking procyclidine for some time, do not stop taking it without speaking with your doctor first. Stopping suddenly can cause problems so your doctor will want to reduce your dose gradually when this is necessary.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with procyclidine. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common procyclidine side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people
What can I do if I experience this?
Dry mouth Try chewing sugar-free gum or sugar-free sweets
Constipation Try to eat a well-balanced diet and drink several glasses of water each day
Blurred vision, feeling dizzy Do not drive or use tools or machines until you feel better
Difficulty passing urine If this becomes troublesome, let your doctor know
Less common procyclidine side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 100 people What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling or being sick Stick to simple foods - avoid rich or spicy meals. Try taking procyclidine after meals if you are not already doing so
A fast heartbeat, skin rash, mood changes, and feeling anxious, confused or forgetful If any of these become troublesome, let your doctor know

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Kemadrin® Tablets 5 mg; Aspen, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated September 2013.
  • British National Formulary; 66th Edition (September 2013) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Last Checked:
19/11/2013
Document ID:
1478 (v25)
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