November 25, 2015
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Side Effects


If adverse reactions are of such severity that the drug must be discontinued, the physician must be aware that abrupt discontinuation of any anticonvulsant drug in a responsive epileptic patient may lead to seizures or even status epilepticus with its life-threatening hazards.

The most severe adverse reactions have been observed in the hemopoietic system and skin (see BOXED WARNING), the liver, and the cardiovascular system.

The most frequently observed adverse reactions, particularly during the initial phases of therapy, are dizziness, drowsiness, unsteadiness, nausea, and vomiting. To minimize the possibility of such reactions, therapy should be initiated at the lowest dosage recommended.

The following additional adverse reactions have been reported:

Hemopoietic System

Aplastic anemia, agranulocytosis, pancytopenia, bone marrow depression, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, leukocytosis, eosinophilia, acute intermittent porphyria, variegate porphyria, porphyria cutanea tarda.


Toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) and Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) (see BOXED WARNING), Acute Generalized Exanthematous Pustulosis (AGEP), pruritic and erythematous rashes, urticaria, photosensitivity reactions, alterations in skin pigmentation, exfoliative dermatitis, erythema multiforme and nodosum, purpura, aggravation of disseminated lupus erythematosus, alopecia, diaphoresis, onychomadesis and hirsutism. In certain cases, discontinuation of therapy may be necessary.

Cardiovascular System

Congestive heart failure, edema, aggravation of hypertension, hypotension, syncope and collapse, aggravation of coronary artery disease, arrhythmias and AV block, thrombophlebitis, thromboembolism (e.g., pulmonary embolism), and adenopathy or lymphadenopathy.

Some of these cardiovascular complications have resulted in fatalities. Myocardial infarction has been associated with other tricyclic compounds.


Abnormalities in liver function tests, cholestatic and hepatocellular jaundice, hepatitis, very rare cases of hepatic failure.



Respiratory System

Pulmonary hypersensitivity characterized by fever, dyspnea, pneumonitis, or pneumonia.

Genitourinary System

Urinary frequency, acute urinary retention, oliguria with elevated blood pressure, azotemia, renal failure, and impotence. Albuminuria, glycosuria, elevated BUN, and microscopic deposits in the urine have also been reported. There have been rare reports of impaired male fertility and/or abnormal spermatogenesis.

Testicular atrophy occurred in rats receiving Tegretol orally from 4 to 52 weeks at dosage levels of 50 to 400 mg/kg/day. Additionally, rats receiving Tegretol in the diet for 2 years at dosage levels of 25, 75, and 250 mg/kg/day had a dose-related incidence of testicular atrophy and aspermatogenesis. In dogs, it produced a brownish discoloration, presumably a metabolite, in the urinary bladder at dosage levels of 50 mg/kg and higher. Relevance of these findings to humans is unknown.

Nervous System

Dizziness, drowsiness, disturbances of coordination, confusion, headache, fatigue, blurred vision, visual hallucinations, transient diplopia, oculomotor disturbances, nystagmus, speech disturbances, abnormal involuntary movements, peripheral neuritis and paresthesias, depression with agitation, talkativeness, tinnitus, hyperacusis, neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

There have been reports of associated paralysis and other symptoms of cerebral arterial insufficiency, but the exact relationship of these reactions to the drug has not been established.

Isolated cases of neuroleptic malignant syndrome have been reported both with and without concomitant use of psychotropic drugs.

Digestive System

Nausea, vomiting, gastric distress and abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, anorexia, and dryness of the mouth and pharynx, including glossitis and stomatitis.


Scattered punctate cortical lens opacities, increased intraocular pressure (see WARNINGS, General) as well as conjunctivitis, have been reported. Although a direct causal relationship has not been established, many phenothiazines and related drugs have been shown to cause eye changes.

Musculoskeletal System

Aching joints and muscles, and leg cramps.


Fever and chills. Hyponatremia (see WARNINGS, General). Decreased levels of plasma calcium have been reported. Osteoporosis has been reported.

Isolated cases of a lupus erythematosus-like syndrome have been reported. There have been occasional reports of elevated levels of cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in patients taking anticonvulsants.

A case of aseptic meningitis, accompanied by myoclonus and peripheral eosinophilia, has been reported in a patient taking carbamazepine in combination with other medications. The patient was successfully dechallenged, and the meningitis reappeared upon rechallenge with carbamazepine.

Drug Abuse And Dependence

No evidence of abuse potential has been associated with Tegretol, nor is there evidence of psychological or physical dependence in humans.

Read the Tegretol (carbamazepine) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects


There has been a report of a patient who passed an orange rubbery precipitate in his stool the day after ingesting Tegretol suspension immediately followed by Thorazine® * solution. Subsequent testing has shown that mixing Tegretol suspension and chlorpromazine solution (both generic and brand name) as well as Tegretol suspension and liquid Mellaril® , resulted in the occurrence of this precipitate. Because the extent to which this occurs with other liquid medications is not known, Tegretol suspension should not be administered simultaneously with other liquid medicinal agents or diluents (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Clinically meaningful drug interactions have occurred with concomitant medications and include (but are not limited to) the following:

Agents That May Affect Tegretol Plasma Levels

When carbamazepine is given with drugs that can increase or decrease carbamazepine levels, close monitoring of carbamazepine levels is indicated and dosage adjustment may be required.

Agents That Increase Carbamazepine Levels

CYP3A4 inhibitors inhibit Tegretol metabolism and can thus increase plasma carbamazepine levels. Drugs that have been shown, or would be expected, to increase plasma carbamazepine levels include aprepitant, cimetidine, ciprofloxacin, danazol, diltiazem, macrolides, erythromycin, troleandomycin, clarithromycin, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, trazodone, olanzapine, loratadine, terfenadine, omeprazole, oxybutynin, dantrolene, isoniazid, niacinamide, nicotinamide, ibuprofen, propoxyphene, azoles (e.g., ketaconazole, itraconazole, fluconazole, voriconazole), acetazolamide, verapamil, ticlopidine, grapefruit juice, and protease inhibitors.

Human microsomal epoxide hydrolase has been identified as the enzyme responsible for the formation of the 10,11-transdiol derivative from carbamazepine-10,11 epoxide. Coadministration of inhibitors of human microsomal epoxide hydrolase may result in increased carbamazepine-10,11 epoxide plasma concentrations. Accordingly, the dosage of Tegretol should be adjusted and/or the plasma levels monitored when used concomitantly with loxapine, quetiapine, or valproic acid.

Agents That Decrease Carbamazepine Levels

CYP3A4 inducers can increase the rate of Tegretol metabolism. Drugs that have been shown, or that would be expected, to decrease plasma carbamazepine levels include cisplatin, doxorubicin HCl, felbamate, fosphenytoin, rifampin, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone, methsuximide, theophylline, aminophylline.

Effect Of Tegretol On Plasma Levels Of Concomitant Agents

Decreased Levels of Concomitant Medications

Tegretol is a potent inducer of hepatic 3A4 and is also known to be an inducer of CYP1A2, 2B6, 2C9/19 and may therefore reduce plasma concentrations of co-medications mainly metabolized by CYP 1A2, 2B6, 2C9/19 and 3A4, through induction of their metabolism. When used concomitantly with Tegretol, monitoring of concentrations or dosage adjustment of these agents may be necessary:

  • When carbamazepine is added to aripiprazole, the aripiprazole dose should be doubled. Additional dose increases should be based on clinical evaluation. If carbamazepine is later withdrawn, the aripiprazole dose should be reduced.
  • When carbamazepine is used with tacrolimus, monitoring of tacrolimus blood concentrations and appropriate dosage adjustments are recommended.
  • The use of concomitant strong CYP3A4 inducers such as carbamazepine should be avoided with temsirolimus. If patients must be coadministered carbamazepine with temsirolimus, an adjustment of temsirolimus dosage should be considered.
  • The use of carbamazepine with lapatinib should generally be avoided. If carbamazepine is started in a patient already taking lapatinib, the dose of lapatinib should be gradually titrated up. If carbamazepine is discontinued, the lapatinib dose should be reduced.
  • Concomitant use of carbamazepine with nefazodone results in plasma concentrations of nefazodone and its active metabolite insufficient to achieve a therapeutic effect. Coadministration of carbamazepine with nefazodone is contraindicated (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
  • Monitor concentrations of valproate when Tegretol is introduced or withdrawn in patients using valproic acid.

In addition, Tegretol causes, or would be expected to cause, decreased levels of the following drugs, for which monitoring of concentrations or dosage adjustment may be necessary: acetaminophen, albendazole, alprazolam, aprepitant, buprenorphone, bupropion, citalopram, clonazepam, clozapine, corticosteroids (e.g., prednisolone, dexamethasone), cyclosporine, dicumarol, dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers (e.g., felodipine), doxycycline, ethosuximide, everolimus, haloperidol, imatinib, itraconazole, lamotrigine, levothyroxine, methadone, methsuximide, mianserin, midazolam, olanzapine, oral and other hormonal contraceptives, oxcarbazepine, paliperidone, phensuximide, phenytoin, praziquantel, protease inhibitors, risperidone, sertraline, sirolimus, tadalafil, theophylline, tiagabine, topiramate, tramadol, trazodone, tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., imipramine, amitriptyline, nortriptyline), valproate, warfarin, ziprasidone, zonisamide.

Other Drug Interactions

Cyclophosphamide is an inactive prodrug and is converted to its active metabolite in part by CYP3A. The rate of metabolism and the leukopenic activity of cyclophosphamide are reportedly increased by chronic coadministration of CYP3A4 inducers. There is a potential for increased cyclophosphamide toxicity when coadministered with carbamazepine.

  • Concomitant administration of carbamazepine and lithium may increase the risk of neurotoxic side effects.
  • Concomitant use of carbamazepine and isoniazid has been reported to increase isoniazid-induced hepatotoxicity.
  • Alterations of thyroid function have been reported in combination therapy with other anticonvulsant medications.
  • Concomitant use of Tegretol with hormonal contraceptive products (e.g., oral, and levonorgestrel subdermal implant contraceptives) may render the contraceptives less effective because the plasma concentrations of the hormones may be decreased. Breakthrough bleeding and unintended pregnancies have been reported. Alternative or back-up methods of contraception should be considered.
  • Resistance to the neuromuscular blocking action of the nondepolarizing neuromuscular blocking agents pancuronium, vecuronium, rocuronium and cisatracurium has occurred in patients chronically administered carbamazepine. Whether or not carbamazepine has the same effect on other non- depolarizing agents is unknown. Patients should be monitored closely for more rapid recovery from neuromuscular blockade than expected, and infusion rate requirements may be higher.

Read the Tegretol Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 9/15/2015

Side Effects

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