Description and Brand Names
Diethylcarbamazine is used in the treatment of certain worm infections. This medicine works by killing the worms. It is used to treat:
Eosinophilic lung (tropical pulmonary eosinophilia; tropical eosinophilia);
River blindness (onchocerciasis).
It will not work for other kinds of worm infections (for example, pinworms or tapeworms).
Diethylcarbamazine is available only with your doctor's prescription, and only from the manufacturer.
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Although there is no specific information comparing use of diethylcarbamazine in children with use in other age groups, this medicine is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in children than it does in adults.
Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of diethylcarbamazine in the elderly with use in other age groups.
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Diethylcarbamazine should be taken immediately after meals.
To help clear up your infection completely, keep taking this medicine for the full time of treatment, even if your symptoms begin to clear up after a few days. In some patients, a second course of this medicine may be required to clear up the infection completely. If you stop taking this medicine too soon, your infection may return. Do not miss any doses.
The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
For oral dosage form (tablets):
For Bancroft's filariasis, loiasis, and river blindness:
Adults—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The usual dose is 2 to 3 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) (0.9 to 1.3 mg per pound) of body weight three times a day.
Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
For eosinophilic lung:
Adults—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The usual dose is 6 mg per kg (2.7 mg per pound) of body weight a day. This is taken for four to seven days.
Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
If your symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
For patients taking diethylcarbamazine for river blindness:
It is important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits. This is to help make sure that the infection is cleared up completely. Also, your doctor may want you to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).
Diethylcarbamazine may cause loss of vision, night blindness, or tunnel vision with prolonged use. This medicine may also cause some people to become dizzy. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or are not alert or able to see well. If these reactions are especially bothersome, check with your doctor.
Doctors may also prescribe a corticosteroid (a cortisone-like medicine) for certain patients with river blindness, especially those with severe symptoms. This is to help reduce the inflammation caused by the death of the worms. If your doctor prescribes these two medicines together, it is important to take the corticosteroid along with diethylcarbamazine. Take them exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not miss any doses.
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Itching and swelling of the face, especially the eyes
painful and tender glands in the neck, armpits, or groin
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
Loss of vision
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
unusual tiredness or weakness
nausea or vomiting
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.