Phenergan (promethazine) is an antihistamine, a sedative, and an anti-emetic (anti-nausea) oral medication that is used to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting related to certain conditions; e.g., motion sickness, and before/after surgery. Phenergan is also used to treat allergic symptoms such as rash, itching, and runny nose associated with the common cold. It may also be used to help patients feel calmer before/after surgery and to help certain narcotic pain relievers work better.
Phenergan is prescribed to treat motion sickness, nausea or vomiting, itching associated with allergies, and for sedation. Phenergan works by blocking a certain natural substance (histamine) that your body makes during an allergic reaction. Its other effects (e.g., anti-nausea, calming, pain relief) may work by affecting other natural substances (acetylcholine) and by acting directly on certain parts of the brain.
Phenergan was approved by the FDA in 1951 to be used principally as an anti-emetic and an anti-histamine medication.
Side effects associated with Phenergan include blurred vision, confusion in the elderly, drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, seizures, and respiratory depression in patients with severely compromised pulmonal function. Some patients, particularly children, may experience excitability rather than drowsiness when taking the drug.
In 2006, the FDA issued an alert notifying healthcare professionals and the public that Phenergan should not be given to children less than two years of age because of possible breathing problems. This warning pertains to Phenergan (promethazine) in any form: syrups, suppositories, tablets, or injectables. In addition, excessive sedation may occur when Phenergan is combined with other medications that depress the central nervous system. Such drugs include ethanol, barbiturates, anti-anxiety medications, sedatives, other phenothiazines, and narcotic pain medications. Further, Phenergan should not be used with propylthiouracil (PTU) due to the potential dangerous drop in white blood cell count which can increase the risk of infections.
Phenergan is contraindicated for use in pediatric patients less than two years of age because of the potential for fatal respiratory depression. Phenergan should also not be taken with any of the MAO (mono-amine oxidase) inhibitor-class of antidepressants, such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and procarbazine (Matulane).
Are there any severe side effects associated with Phenergan?
Yes. Dangerous side effects can include severe drowsiness and reduced mental alertness (this may worsen if Phenergan is taken with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants), serious breathing problems, increased risk of seizures, bone-marrow problems and blood cell production, and Neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
What are the warning signs of a bad reaction to Phenergan?
Warning symptoms include lack of coordination, severe dizziness, ringing ears, fainting, slow heartbeat, mental/mood changes (e.g., hallucinations, nervousness, irritability), involuntary movements (e.g., fixed upward stare, neck twisting, tongue movements), restlessness, shaking (tremor), decreased/painful urination, weakness, and vision changes (e.g., double vision).
What should I tell my doctor before taking Phenergan?
Before taking Phenergan, it is important to tell your doctor if you have blood/immune system problems (e.g., bone marrow depression), eye problems (narrow-angle glaucoma), heart disease (e.g., angina, irregular heartbeat), high blood pressure, liver disease, certain nervous system problems (e.g., neuroleptic malignant syndrome, Reye’s syndrome), seizure, stomach/bowel problems (e.g., blockage, ulcer disease), urination problems (e.g., due to enlarged prostate, blockage), have breathing or lung problems, have sleep apnea (breathing problems when sleeping), have seizures, drink alcohol, are trying to become pregnant, are already pregnant, or are breast-feeding.
Are there any interactions between Phenergan and other drugs or foods?
Phenergan and other medications can interact with each other. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take — including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements — especially medicines that affect your brain (such as anti-anxiety medicine, sleeping pills, pain medicines, sedatives, narcotics, antidepressants or tranquilizers), epinephrine, monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) used to treat depression or other mental disorders, and medicines called anticholinergics.
Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Phenergan?
Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Phenergan, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Phenergan lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.