|Type of medicine||Antipsychotic|
|Used for||Easing the symptoms of schizophrenia and other similar mental health disorders|
|Available as||Tablets, injection and depot (long-acting) injection|
Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that causes disordered ideas, beliefs and experiences. Symptoms of schizophrenia include hearing, seeing, or sensing things that are not real, having mistaken beliefs, and feeling unusually suspicious. Zuclopenthixol helps to ease these symptoms. It works on the balance of chemical substances in your brain.
You may be given an injection of zuclopenthixol acetate (Clopixol Acuphase®) for a short time to get your symptoms under control, or you may be prescribed tablets to take. A long-acting or 'depot' injection may be recommended for you once your symptoms have improved. Zuclopenthixol decanoate is a depot injection which slowly releases zuclopenthixol into your body. It is given every 1-4 weeks. The main advantage of a depot injection is that you do not have to remember to take tablets every day.
Before taking zuclopenthixol
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 zuclopenthixol, it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have a heart condition or blood vessel disease.
- If you have liver, kidney, or prostate problems.
- If you have breathing problems.
- If you have any of the following: diabetes, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, depression, glaucoma, or myasthenia gravis (this is a condition causing muscle weakness).
- If you have been told you are at risk of having a stroke.
- If you have a condition called phaeochromocytoma (a tumour on your adrenal gland).
- If you have ever had jaundice (yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes), or a blood disorder.
- If you have a rare blood condition called porphyria.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any medicine.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take zuclopenthixol
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about zuclopenthixol, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- If you have been prescribed tablets, take them exactly as your doctor has told you. You will be told how many tablets to take and when to take them, as your dose will depend upon the reason you are taking zuclopenthixol. Your dose will also be on the label of your pack to remind you. You can take zuclopenthixol tablets before or after meals.
- Try to take your doses at the same times of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take them. If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time to take your next dose, wait until then and skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
- If you have been prescribed an injection, it will be given to you by your doctor or nurse. It will be injected into a muscle of your buttock or upper leg. You will also be told when your next injection is due. If you miss an appointment for an injection, you should contact your doctor to make another appointment as soon as possible.
- If you haven't received an injection like zuclopenthixol before, a small dose is usually given as a test before you have a normal dose. This is to see how well you tolerate the injection.
- If you have been prescribed zuclopenthixol decanoate (a long-acting injection), you may be asked to continue taking your tablets for a few days after you have had your first injection. This is because it can take a short while before you feel the effect from a long-acting injection.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Your treatment will require careful monitoring to make sure that you get the best possible benefit from zuclopenthixol. Keep your regular doctor's appointments so your progress can be checked. You will need to have some tests from time to time.
- Treatment with zuclopenthixol is usually long-term unless you experience an adverse effect. Keep taking it until your doctor tells you otherwise. Stopping suddenly can cause problems and your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually if this is necessary.
- Zuclopenthixol may cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight than normal. Use a sunscreen that protects against UVA light and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, especially in strong sunlight or until you know how your skin reacts. Do not use sunbeds.
- If you are having any dental treatment or an operation, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking. This is important because zuclopenthixol may interfere with any anaesthetic you receive.
- If you buy or take any 'over-the-counter' medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with zuclopenthixol.
- If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about drinking while you are on zuclopenthixol. Alcohol may increase the chance that you experience side-effects and may not be recommended for you.
- If you have diabetes, you may need to check your blood glucose more frequently, as zuclopenthixol may affect the levels of sugar in your blood. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
Can zuclopenthixol cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common zuclopenthixol side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling dizzy or sleepy, blurred vision||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines|
|Dry mouth||Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets|
|Feeling light-headed when you stand up||This can happen particularly when you first start taking zuclopenthixol. Getting up more slowly until you are aware how you react should help|
|Feeling shaky or restless, unusual or uncontrollable muscle movements||Speak with your doctor about any of these. Your treatment may need adjusting|
|Changes in weight, difficulty sleeping, feeling anxious or confused, changes in sexual ability, breast enlargement in men, abnormal breast milk production, menstrual problems, producing more saliva than usual, fast heartbeats, headache, feeling sick, constipation||Discuss these with your doctor if any become troublesome|
Important: if you experience any 'flu-like' symptoms including muscle stiffness, a very high temperature, confusion, a fast heartbeat, and sweating, you must contact your doctor immediately. These may be signs of a rare but serious condition known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store zuclopenthixol
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Clopixol® Tablets 2, 10 and 25 mg; Manufacturer's PIL, Clopixol® Tablets 2, 10 and 25 mg, Lundbeck Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2012.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Clopixol Acuphase® Injection; Manufacturer's PIL, Clopixol Acuphase® Injection, Lundbeck Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2012.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Clopixol® Injection; Manufacturer's PIL, Clopixol® Injection, Lundbeck Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2012.
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.
Prof Cathy Jackson