How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Dronabinol is no longer being manufactured for sale in Canada and is no longer available under any brand names. This article is being kept available for reference purposes only. If you are using this medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for information about your treatment options.
Dronabinol is a member of the family of medications known as cannabinoids. Dronabinol is also known as THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) which is a synthetic form of the naturally occurring THC found in Cannabis sativa (marijuana). This medication is used in the treatment of AIDS-related loss of appetite and weight loss, and severe nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy.
This medication is used only after it is found that other medications used for preventing nausea and vomiting of chemotherapy have been tried and found ineffective.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Marinol is no longer being manufactured for sale in Canada and is no longer available under any brand names. This article is being kept available for reference purposes only. If you are using this medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for information about your treatment options.
How should I use this medication?
The recommended adult dose of dronabinol for AIDS-related loss of appetite and weight loss varies from 2.5 mg to 20 mg per day.
For the treatment and prevention of nausea, the usual dose of 5 mg 3 or 4 times daily is usually adequate, although it can be increased as tolerated and/or required. Capsules should be swallowed whole, not crushed or chewed. This medication should be taken before meals.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Store this medication in the refrigerator (2 to 8 °C), in a well-sealed amber-coloured container (to protect against light), and keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not take this medication if you:
- are allergic to dronabinol or any ingredients of the medication, notably sesame oil
- are allergic to marijuana
- are a pregnant or breast-feeding woman
- are a woman who is capable of having children but not using adequate birth control
- are planning a pregnancy (women planning to become pregnant or men planning to father a child)
- are under 18 years of age
- have a history of schizophrenia or other mental health condition causing psychosis
- have poor kidney or liver function
- have serious heart problems, e.g.:
- abnormal heart rhythms
- heart failure
- poorly-controlled high blood pressure
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- blurred vision or any changes in vision
- clumsiness or unsteadiness
- dryness of mouth
- false sense of well-being
- feeling faint or lightheaded, especially when getting up from a lying or sitting position
- flushing of face
- trouble thinking
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- amnesia (memory loss)
- changes in mood
- fast or pounding heartbeat
- feelings of unreality
- mental depression
- nervousness or anxiety
The signs of overdose include the following:
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin taking a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should take this medication.
Alcohol: Dronabinol can reduce a person's coordination, concentration, and ability to respond quickly. Alcohol can intensify these effects.
Dependence: Long term use of dronabinol may cause dependence. If you have a history of substance abuse, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: You should not drive or engage in activities requiring unimpaired judgment and coordination while using this medication.
Smoking: You should not smoke marijuana while using dronabinol as it is possible to get too much THC in the body.
Pregnancy: The safety of dronabinol for use during pregnancy has not been established. This medication should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately. Men and women using this medication should also use a reliable method of birth control as long as they are on the medication and for 3 months afterwards.
Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking dronabinol, it may affect your baby. Breast-feeding mothers should not use dronabinol.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children. This medication is not recommended for children.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between dronabinol and any of the following:
- anticholinergic medications (e.g., scopolamine, atropine)
- medications that cause drowsiness such as tranquilizers, barbiturates, sleeping aids, alcohol, antihistamines, muscle relaxants or narcotics
- tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, desipramine)
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.