Meds and you

27 September 2013


Orphenadrine is a muscle relaxant. Muscle relaxants are drugs that reduce pain by relaxing muscles in spasm.


Orphenadrine is the active ingredient of Norflex (Nappi Code: 747521-018) and Disipal (Nappi Code: 750542-006).

Orphenadrine is also one of multiple active ingredients found in Norflex Co (Nappi Code: 747548-005/013), Besemax (Nappi Code: 825123-003/011/038), Besenol (Nappi Code: 881767-18/026/034).

General information
Orphenadrine is a muscle relaxant. Muscle relaxants are drugs that reduce pain by relaxing muscles in spasm.

Orphenadrine is furthermore often used to treat extrapyramidal side effects – spasms that cause abnormal movements in the whole body or individual parts thereof. This is often seen in Parkinson’s disease, but may also be caused by some medication.

In South Africa orphenadrine is registered for the treatment of Parkinsonism, extrapyridimal effects, as well as generalised pain and the relief of muscle spasm associated with acute painful muscular conditions.

When used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, orphenadrine has to be taken regularly to be effective, even if you do not notice an immediate effect. Treatment should not be stopped without speaking to your doctor, especially if you have been taking orphenadrine for a prolonged period of time, as symptoms originally being treated may recur.

When applied to treat painful muscular conditions, orphenadrine does not cure any of the underlying conditions leading to these spasms, but simply keeps the symptoms under control.

How does orphenadrine work?
Orphenadrine works in the brain by reducing the activity of a brain chemical called acetylcholine.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 2
Available as: orphenadrine is available as tablets.
What does it do? Orphenadrine is a muscle relaxant.
Overdose risk: high
Dependence risk: medium
Is Orphenadrine available as a generic? yes
Is Orphenadrine available on prescription only? no

User information

Onset of effect: within 60 minutes
Duration of action: up to 8 hours
Stopping this medicine: if you have been using this drug as short-term muscle relaxant it can be stopped when no longer needed. After long term-term use you should best consult your doctor first.
Prolonged use: tolerance may occur with long-term use.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have liver or kidney disease

  • you have glaucoma

  • you have heart disease

  • you have heart rhythm disturbance, i.e. a fast heart rate

  • you have a thyroid disorder

  • you have an enlarged prostate

  • you have difficulty urinating

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: this medication is safe to use.
Infants and children: this medication is not intended for use in children.
The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as adverse effects are more likely.
Driving and hazardous work:caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.
Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects

Side Effect
Consult your doctor

Only if severe
In all cases
dryness of the mouth




difficulty swallowing


nausea and vomiting




blurred vision


dizziness or loss of balance


confusion, hallucinations


warm, dry skin


heart palpitations


difficulty in passing urine




chlorpromazine risk of increased blood sugar
hyoscine increased risk of orphenadrine side effects
chlorpheniramine increased risk of orphenadrine side effects
diphenhydramine increased risk of orphenadrine side effects
tricyclic antidepressants increased risk of orphenadrine side effects

Disease interactions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have liver or kidney disease, glaucoma, heart disease, a thyroid disorder, an enlarged prostate, or if you have difficulty urinating.

Overdose action
An overdose of this medication can be fatal. Seek immediate emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Adults: 50 mg 3 times daily up to a daily maximum of 400 mg

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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