Active Ingredients

Prochlorperazine – Effect, Application & Risks


The drug prochlorperazine is mainly used in human medicine to treat nausea , vomiting and migraines . Occasionally, the dopamine antagonist is also prescribed to treat psychiatric or mental illnesses. Prochlorperazine is therefore both an antiemetic and a neuroleptic .

What is prochlorperazine?

The medicinal substance prochlorperazine is one of the antiemetics. Substances or preparations are summarized under this term, which – like prochlorperazine – are administered against nausea and vomiting.

Since prochlorperazine binds to the dopamine receptors in the human brain , the substance also has psychoactive effects. It is therefore occasionally used as a neuroleptic to treat mental or psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia or anxiety disorders in the short, medium or long term. Compared to antiemetic treatment, however, the administered dose in these cases is increased many times over.

In addition, prochlorperazine is also used to treat severe migraine attacks. The white to white-yellow substance is described in chemistry and pharmacology by the molecular formula C 20 – H 24 – C – I – N 3 – S, which corresponds to a moral mass of 373.943 g/mol. There is currently no approval in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Pharmacological action

Due to its pharmacological properties and its effects, prochlorperazine belongs to the group of dopamine antagonists. Antagonists are chemical substances that neutralize or reduce the effect of a similar reference substance, the so-called agonist, or cause an opposite effect.

Prochlorperazine thus binds to the D2 receptors of the human brain in the same way as the reference substance dopamine. The binding blocks the receptors. The result is a drive-reducing, antipsychotic effect that also has slightly sedating effects.

The pharmacological effect of prochlorperazine thus largely corresponds to the effect of the other phenothiazines such as perphenazine , thioridazine , fluphenazine or thiethylperazine . The literature therefore also reports that prochlorperazine has a slight affinity for the serotonin receptors (5HT2 receptors). The substance therefore also blocks these receptors, which can increase the effect.

Medical Application & Use

Prochlorperazine has a relatively wide range of uses. This is due to the fact that it has both neuroleptic or sedative effects and antiemetic effects. The treatment or prevention of massive nausea and severe vomiting is one of the main areas of application of prochlorperazine. It is also prescribed to treat migraines.

In addition to this antiemetic field of application, prochlorperazine is also used as a neuroleptic to treat various mental illnesses. These include psychoses caused by schizophrenia, as well as various anxiety and obsessive -compulsive disorders .

It is taken orally in film-coated tablet form. However, the dose prescribed for the treatment of psychiatric disorders is many times higher than the amount of the drug administered for antiemetic treatment.

Prochlorperazine is pharmacy and prescription only in every country where it is licensed. The substance cannot be purchased without a doctor’s prescription. They are only distributed through approved pharmacies .

The best-known preparation, which is based exclusively on prochlorperazine as the active ingredient, is marketed in the USA under the trade name Compazine®.

In Germany, Austria and Switzerland there is currently no approval for prochlorperazine. The substance may not be processed in any preparation in these countries. However, other medicines are available that have similar effects.

Risks & side effects

As with all medicines, before taking prochlorperazine for the first time, it must be checked whether an allergy or other intolerances exist. If this is the case, treatment must not be carried out. Because in these cases there is a contraindication. This describes that a medical contraindication prohibits use.

Prochlorperazine is also contraindicated if severe liver or kidney disease has been diagnosed, as these organs are instrumental in breaking down the substance. Also, prochlorperazine must not be taken together with cisapride , terfenadine or astemizole .

In addition, interactions with other drugs should be taken into account. Prochlorperazine increases the effects of alcohol and other narcotics , which is typical for representatives of its drug class. Accordingly, before an operation is performed and anesthetics are administered, the patient should be advised that they are taking prochlorperazine. Alcohol consumption should be avoided for the duration of treatment.

In addition, prochlorperazine can lead to undesirable side effects after ingestion , but this does not necessarily have to be the case. The most common side effects of prochlorperazine include disorders of the extrapyramidal motor system (EPMS), a noticeable drop in blood pressure ( hypotension ), an increase in heart rate ( tachycardia ), headaches , general malaise and dry mouth . If side effects occur, medical advice should be sought immediately.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.