Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013

Chlorpropamide

Chlorpropamide is an oral blood-glucose-lowering drug.

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Chlorpropamide is the active ingredient of Hypomide.

General information

Chlorpropamide is an oral blood-glucose-lowering drug. It is prescribed in the treatment and management of type 2 diabetes - a disease caused by a problem in the way the body makes or uses insulin, which is necessary for glucose to move from the blood to the inside of the cells - that is not adequately controlled by diet and exercise alone.

Type 2 diabetes makes up 90 per cent or more of all cases of diabetes.

Treatment with oral anti-diabetic drugs should only be started once all lifestyle and dietary measures have been tried for at least three months and have not controlled blood glucose levels adequately. Once treatment with this medication is started, diet and exercise should however not be stopped.

Chlorpropamide can be used on its own - and treatment is often started with one drug only - or in combination with other oral blood-glucose-lowering drugs.

For chlorpropamide to remain effective it needs to be taken regularly. This medication is best given 30 minutes before a meal in order to allow the insulin that is released as a result of taking this drug, to cope with food.

Low blood sugar levels are a potential risk when being treated with this medication and other similar drugs - the dosage should titrated under supervision of your doctor until the right dose has been found. It is therefore recommended to start treatment with low doses.

Chlorpropamide tends to encourage weight gain and weight control is of great importance.

This medication is used in general when the body is still making some insulin.

How does chlorpropamide work?

Chlorpropamide acts by stimulating the release of insulin from the pancreas, thereby promoting sugar uptake in the body. This ultimately lowers the level of sugar in the blood.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 3

Available as: chlorpropamide is available as tablets

What does it do? chlorpropamide lowers blood sugar

Overdose risk: high

Dependence risk : low

Is chlorpropamide available as a generic? no

Is chlorpropamide available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect: within 2 hours

Duration of action: up to 36 hours

Dietary advice: take this medication 30 minutes before a meal

Stopping this medicine: consult your doctor before stopping this medication. Diabetes may worsen with premature discontinuation.

Prolonged use: no problems expected

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have liver or kidney disease
  • you have thyroid disease
  • you have porphyria
  • you have a disease/condition affecting your adrenal glands
  • you are allergic to any medication
  • you are taking other medication

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: this medication is not intended for use in children.

The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as side effects may be more common

Driving and hazardous work: caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness or light-headedness. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.

Alcohol: avoid as concurrent use causes a disulfiram-like reaction. Excessive facial flushing may also occur.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

dizziness

x

x

confusion

x

x

nausea/ vomiting

x

x

diarrhoea/ constipation

x

x

palpitations

x

x

sweating

x

x

rash

x

x

jaundice

x

x

weight changes

x

x

rapid pulse

x

x

slurred speech

x

x

seizures

x

x

fainting

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions

acarbose

lowers blood sugar further

ACE inhibitor blood pressure medication

may lower blood sugar further

painkillers such as aspirin

may lower blood sugar further

alcohol

may cause a disulfiram reaction

certain antibiotics such as sulphonamides, chloramphenicol, co-trimoxazole

may lower blood sugar further

warfarin

increased risk of bleeding. may lower blood sugar further

phenytoin

risk of phenytoin toxicity

certain anti-fungal drugs such as fluconazole and miconazole

may lower blood sugar further

beta blocking drugs

may affect blood sugar in an unpredictable fashion

clonidine

may mask signs of low blood sugar

corticosteroids

may diminish effect on blood sugar

disopyramide

may lower blood sugar further

diuretics

may diminish effect on blood sugar

isoniazid

may increase blood sugar

ketoconazole

may lower blood sugar further

lithium

may impair glucose tolerance

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have liver or kidney disease, thyroid disease, porphyria or a disease/condition affecting your adrenal glands.

Overdose action

An overdose of this medication can be serious. Seek immediate emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 50 - 500mg daily

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 

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