Studies have shown that older adults with dementia (a brain disorder that affects the ability to remember, think clearly, communicate, and perform daily activities and that may cause changes in mood and personality) who take antipsychotics (medications for mental illness) such as pimozide have an increased chance of death during treatment.
Pimozide is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of behavior problems in older adults with dementia. Talk to the doctor who prescribed this medication if you, a family member, or someone you care for has dementia and is taking pimozide. For more information, visit the FDA website: Web Site
Pimozide is used to control motor or verbal tics (an uncontrollable need to repeat certain movements or sounds) caused by Tourette's disorder (condition characterized by motor or verbal tics). Pimozide should only be used to treat people who cannot take other medications or who have taken other medications without good results. Pimozide should only be used to treat severe tics that stop the person from learning, working, or performing daily activities.
Pimozide is in a class of medications called conventional antipsychotics. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain.
Pimozide comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day at bedtime or two or more times a day. Take pimozide at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take pimozide exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of pimozide and gradually increase your dose, not more than once every 2 or 3 days. Your doctor may decrease your dose once your condition is controlled. Be sure to tell your doctor how you are feeling during your treatment with pimozide.
Pimozide controls Tourette's disorder but does not cure it. It may take some time before you feel the full benefit of pimozide. Continue to take pimozide even if you feel well. Do not stop taking pimozide without talking to your doctor. If you suddenly stop taking pimozide, you may experience difficulty controlling your movements. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually.
Pimozide is also used sometimes to treat schizophrenia (a mental illness that causes disturbed or unusual thinking, loss of interest in life, and strong or inappropriate emotions) and certain behavior, personality, movement, and psychiatric disorders in adults. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before taking pimozide,
Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are taking this medication.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
Pimozide may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
At high doses, pimozide has caused tumors in mice. This does not necessarily mean that pimozide will also cause tumors in humans. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking this medication.
Pimozide may cause a life-threatening irregular heartbeat. Some people who took high doses of pimozide to treat conditions other than Tourette's syndrome died suddenly, possibly due to this type of irregular heartbeat. Your doctor will order an electrocardiogram (test that records the electrical activity of the heart) before and during your treatment with pimozide to see whether you already have heart problems that could be worsened by pimozide and to see whether pimozide has caused any heart problems. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking this medication.
Pimozide may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( Web Site) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( Web Site) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. Web Site
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at Web Site. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your body's response to pimozide.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.