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Pimozide (sold as Orap) is an antipsychotic drug. It was discovered at Janssen Pharmaceutica in 1963. It has a high potency compared to chlorpromazine (ratio 50-70:1). On a weight basis it is even more potent than haloperidol. As it has severe side effects, it is considered a drug of last resort, typically prescribed only after the patient has failed to respond to other medications. It also has special neurologic indications for Gilles de la Tourette syndrome and resistant tics. The side effects include akathisia, tardive dyskinesia, neuroleptic malignant syndrome and long QT syndrome.
Additional recommended knowledge
Pimozide is used in its oral preparation in schizophrenia and chronic psychosis (on-label indications in Europe only), Gilles de la Tourette syndrome and resistant tics (Europe, USA and Canada). In Germany the 1mg tablet is indicated for the treatment of some forms of reactive depression.
Pimozide has been used for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children and adolescents, when not controlled by monotherapy with a stimulant.
Pimozide has been used in the treatment of delusional disorder. (Munro, 1999)
Pimozide is a diphenylbutylpiperidine derivative.
Plasma levels of pimozide can vary widely between patients, and in insufficient response therapeutic drug monitoring may be required to ascertain that the patient is developing adequate plasma levels before withdrawing the drug and attempting other antipsychotics.
Pimozide blocks the following postsynaptic receptors according to Bezchlinyk-Butler and Jeffries:
Pimozide also inhibits moderately the dopamine-reuptake from the synaptic cleft, accounting for the stimulant properties of the drug. The inhibition of dopamine-reuptake may also explain the synergistic effects of pimozide in the treatment of ADHD when given together with a stimulant.
Contraindications and precautions
Pimozide can have severe, potentially fatal side effects. As with other dopamine antagonists pimozide can cause various extrapyramidal side-effects, including tardive dyskinesia. The frequency of extrapyramidal side-effects is quite high. Neuroleptic malignant syndrome may also occur.
In particular, pimozide is known for causing the unpleasant extrapyramidal side-effect akathisia (commonly referred to as "restless pacing") in a large percentage of those who take it. This "restlessness" can sometimes be treated with anticholinergic drugs (mainly benztropine), beta blockers or benzodiazepines, particularly clonazepam (Klonopin). Unfortunately, in many cases this side effect can be so intense that even large doses of these drugs are unable to counter it, and often is so extreme that self-destructive behaviour, including attempting suicide, may occur.
Pimozide has no significant sedative properties, but behaves in some patients as a mild stimulant. If the drug is given shortly before bedtime, insomnia may result. Excitement, agitation, irritability, tension, anxiety, and nightmares have all been seen.
The drug can also cause depression in quite a number of patients, severe enough to result in suicide.
Pimozide has few but nonetheless existing anticholinerg side-effects (e.g. dry mouth, obstipation, urinay hesitancy), rarely of clinical importance.
Pimozide may rarely cause seizures of the grand-mal-type. Patients with epilepsia should be counselled to maintain anticonvulsive therapy.
Particularly disturbing is a relatively high incidence of the long QT syndrome, which may lead to ventricular tachycardia, torsades de pointes and death via ventricular fibrillation.
There is also specific information of carcinogenity both in animals and humans. The carcinogenity in animals has been proven and the carcinogenity in man is strongly suspected (breast cancer and probably liver tumors).
Because of these serious side effects, Pimozide should only be used after the patient has received full information about the drug and agrees to treatment with it despite the risks (fully informed consent).
Due to its long halflife pimozide is usually given once a day (preferably in the morning, because pimozide may have a rather stimulating effect).
Recommended dose ranges are as follows:
Animal toxicity and human overdose
The precise lethal dose in humans is unknown. The oral LD50 is 228 mg/kg in mice, 5120 mg/kg in rats, 188 mg/kg in guinea pigs, and 40 mg/kg in dogs.
Generally human overdoses show exaggerations of the pharmacologic effect of Pimozide. These are : ECG-abnormalities, severe extrapyramidal reactions, hypotension, and comatose state with respiratory depression.
Treatment is largely symptomatic. No specific antidote exists. Induction of emesis, gastric lavage and the repeated application of activated charcoal can all be helpful. Monitor and stabilize, if necessary, the vital functions. Hospitialization and/or admittance to intensive care treatment is in most cases necessary. Due to the long halflife of Pimozide, the symptoms of overdose may last for several days.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pimozide". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|