Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Prolixin (fluphenazine) is a phenothiazine, also called a neuroleptic, used to treat symptoms of a certain type of mental/mood condition (schizophrenia). The brand name Prolixin is discontinued and this medication is available in generic form only. Common side effects of Prolixin (fluphenazine) include:
- loss of appetite,
- dry mouth,
- blurred vision,
- headache, or
Tell your doctor if you have serious side effects of Prolixin (fluphenazine) including:
- feelings of restlessness,
- mask-like facial expression,
- greatly increased saliva,
- unusual mental/mood changes (such as depression, worsening of psychosis),
- unusual dreams,
- frequent urination or difficulty urinating,
- vision problems,
- weight changes,
- swelling of the feet or ankles,
- skin discoloration,
- butterfly-shaped facial rash,
- joint pain, or
Total daily dosage for adult psychotic patients may range initially from 2.5 to 10.0 mg and should be divided and given at six- to eight-hour intervals. Fluphenazine may interact with anticholinergics, dopamine agonists, guanadrel, guanethidine, lithium, sibutramine, isoniazid, theophylline, bupropion, tramadol, antihistamines, anti-anxiety drugs, anti-seizure drugs, medicine for sleep, muscle relaxants, narcotics, other psychiatric medicines, or tranquilizers. Check labels on all medicines (e.g., cold-and-cough products) because they may contain drowsiness-causing ingredients. Tell your doctor all medications you are taking. During pregnancy, fluphenazine should be used only when prescribed. Liver problems or birth defects may occur in infants exposed to this type of medication in the womb. Tell the doctor if you notice yellowing of the eyes/skin or dark urine in your infant. Babies born to mothers who have used this drug during the last 3 months of pregnancy may develop symptoms including muscle stiffness or shakiness, drowsiness, feeding/breathing difficulties, or constant crying. If you notice these symptoms in your newborn during their first month, tell the doctor. Based on information for similar drugs, fluphenazine may pass into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Breastfeeding while using this medication is not recommended.
Our Prolixin (fluphenazine) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
To minimize dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a seated or lying position.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: feelings of restlessness, mask-like facial expression, greatly increased saliva, tremors, unusual mental/mood changes (such as depression, worsening of psychosis), confusion, unusual dreams, frequent urination or difficulty urinating, vision problems, weight change, swelling of the feet/ankles, fainting, skin discoloration, butterfly-shaped facial rash, joint pain, seizures.
In rare instances, this medication may increase your level of a certain hormone (prolactin). For females, this rare increase in prolactin may result in unwanted breast milk, missing/stopped menstrual periods, or difficulty becoming pregnant. For males, it may result in decreased sexual ability, inability to produce sperm, or enlarged breasts. If you develop any of these symptoms, tell your doctor immediately.
Rarely, males may have a painful or prolonged erection lasting 4 or more hours. If this occurs, stop using this drug and get medical help right away, or permanent problems could occur.
Fluphenazine may rarely cause a condition known as tardive dyskinesia. In some cases, this condition may be permanent. Tell your doctor immediately if you develop any unusual/uncontrolled movements (especially of the face, mouth, tongue, arms, or legs).
This medication may rarely cause a very serious condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). Get medical help right away if you have any of the following symptoms: fever, muscle stiffness/pain/tenderness/weakness, severe tiredness, severe confusion, sweating, fast/irregular heartbeat, dark urine, change in the amount of urine.
This drug may infrequently cause serious blood problems (such as agranulocytosis, leukopenia) or liver problems. Get medical help right away if you notice any of the following rare but very serious side effects: signs of infection (such as fever, persistent sore throat), easy bruising/bleeding, severe stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing of the eyes/skin.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Read the entire patient information overview for Prolixin (Fluphenazine)
Central Nervous System
The side effects most frequently reported with phenothiazine compounds are extrapyramidal symptoms including pseudoparkinsonism, dystonia, dyskinesia, akathisia, oculogyric crises, opisthotonos, and hyperreflexia. Most often these extrapyramidal symptoms are reversible; however, they may be persistent (see below). With any given phenothiazine derivative, the incidence and severity of such reactions depend more on individual patient sensitivity than on other factors, but dosage level and patient age are also determinants.
Extrapyramidal reactions may be alarming, and the patient should be forewarned and reassured. These reactions can usually be controlled by administration of antiparkinsonian drugs such as benztropine mesylate or intravenous caffeine and sodium benzoate injection, and by subsequent reduction in dosage.
See WARNINGS. The syndrome is characterized by involuntary choreoathetoid movements which variously involve the tongue, face, mouth, lips, or jaw (e.g., protrusions of the tongue, puffing of cheeks, puckering of the mouth, chewing movements), trunk and extremities. The severity of the syndrome and the degree of impairment produced vary widely.
The syndrome may become clinically recognizable either during treatment, upon dosage reduction, or upon withdrawal of treatment. Early detection of tardive dyskinesia is important. To increase the likelihood of detecting the syndrome at the earliest possible time, the dosage of neuroleptic drugs should be reduced periodically (if clinically possible) and the patient observed for signs of the disorder. This maneuver is critical, since neuroleptic drugs may mask the signs of the syndrome.
Other CNS Effects
Occurrences of neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) have been reported in patients on neuroleptic therapy (see WARNINGS, Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome). Leukocytosis, elevated CPK, liver function abnormalities, and acute renal failure may also occur with NMS.
Drowsiness or lethargy, if they occur, may necessitate a reduction in dosage; the induction of a catatonic-like state has been known to occur with dosages of fluphenazine far in excess of the recommended amounts. As with other phenothiazine compounds, reactivation or aggravation of psychotic processes may be encountered.
Phenothiazine derivatives have been known to cause, in some patients, restlessness, excitement, or bizarre dreams.
Autonomic Nervous System
Hypotension has rarely presented a problem with fluphenazine. However, patients with pheochromocytoma, cerebral vascular or renal insufficiency, or a severe cardiac reserve deficiency (such as mitral insufficiency) appear to be particularly prone to hypotensive reactions with phenothiazine compounds, and should therefore be observed closely when the drug is administered. If severe hypotension should occur, supportive measures including the use of intravenous vasopressor drugs should be instituted immediately. Levarterenol Bitartrate Injection is the most suitable drug for this purpose; epinephrine should not be used since phenothiazine derivatives have been found to reverse its action, resulting in a further lowering of blood pressure.
Autonomic reactions including nausea and loss of appetite, salivation, polyuria, perspiration, dry mouth, headache, and constipation may occur. Autonomic effects can usually be controlled by reducing or temporarily discontinuing dosage.
Metabolic and Endocrine
Weight change, peripheral edema, abnormal lactation, gynecomastia, menstrual irregularities, false results on pregnancy tests, impotency in men and increased libido in women have all been known to occur in some patients on phenothiazine therapy.
Skin disorders such as itching, erythema, urticaria, seborrhea, photosensitivity, eczema and even exfoliative dermatitis have been reported with phenothiazine derivatives. The possibility of anaphylactoid reactions occurring in some patients should be borne in mind.
Routine blood counts are advisable during therapy since blood dyscrasias including leukopenia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenic or nonthrombocytopenic purpura, eosinophilia, and pancytopenia have been observed with phenothiazine derivatives. Furthermore, if any soreness of the mouth, gums, or throat, or any symptoms of upper respiratory infection occur and confirmatory leukocyte count indicates cellular depression, therapy should be discontinued and other appropriate measures instituted immediately.
Liver damage as manifested by cholestatic jaundice may be encountered, particularly during the first months of therapy; treatment should be discontinued if this occurs. An increase in cephalin flocculation, sometimes accompanied by alterations in other liver function tests, has been reported in patients receiving fluphenazine hydrochloride who have had no clinical evidence of liver damage.
Sudden, unexpected and unexplained deaths have been reported in hospitalized psychotic patients receiving phenothiazines. Previous brain damage or seizures may be predisposing factors; high doses should be avoided in known seizure patients. Several patients have shown sudden flare-ups of psychotic behavior patterns shortly before death. Autopsy findings have usually revealed acute fulminating pneumonia or pneumonitis, aspiration of gastric contents, or intramyocardial lesions.
The following adverse reactions have also occurred with phenothiazine derivatives: systemic lupus erythematosus-like syndrome, hypotension severe enough to cause fatal cardiac arrest, altered electrocardiographic and electroencephalographic tracings, altered cerebrospinal fluid proteins, cerebral edema, asthma, laryngeal edema, and angioneurotic edema; with long-term use — skin pigmentation, and lenticular and corneal opacities.
Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Prolixin (Fluphenazine)