Home | Caregiver Resources and Videos | Talking With The Doctor

Talking with a Doctor

We asked people who have been caregivers of people with Huntington’s disease (HD) what advice they would give about talking with the doctor regarding your loved one's HD chorea. The answers they gave may provide you with some suggestions on how to prepare for your doctor visit. You can find out more about them by viewing their videos.

I would tell you to write down those symptoms, write down what you’re seeing and the challenges that you’re having. Take it in to the doctor, and talk to them about it. Ask them questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And I encourage you to talk to them about whether or not this treatment would be appropriate for your loved one.”
~ Karen, caregiver of person living with HD
Be your own advocate, and do your own research. Bring your list of questions to your doctor and your list of symptoms, and go over those with your doctor. And be a good advocate for what you need and what your care should be.”
~ Molly, caregiver of person living with HD

If your doctor has recommended Xenazine® (tetrabenazine) for your loved one, find out how to take Xenazine and learn about what kinds of side effects you should watch for.


Sue and Jeff’s Story

Sue and Jeff share their experiences living with Huntington’s disease, from their initial reactions to her diagnosis to working with their doctor to find treatment for her HD chorea symptoms.

Hear from Sue and Jeff »


Harry & Delraye’s Journey with HD Chorea

Watch Harry and Delraye discuss their journey with Huntington’s disease, from their experiences with chorea symptoms to interactions with their healthcare team.

Join Harry & Delraye’s Journey »

XENAZINE® (tetrabenazine) Tablets

Indications and Usage:

XENAZINE is a medicine that is used to treat the involuntary movements (chorea) of Huntington's disease. XENAZINE does not cure the cause of the involuntary movements, and it does not treat other symptoms of Huntington's disease, such as problems with thinking or emotions.

It is not known whether XENAZINE is safe and effective in children.

Important Safety Information:

  • XENAZINE can cause serious side effects, including:
    • depression
    • suicidal thoughts
    • suicidal actions
  • You should not start taking XENAZINE if you are depressed (have untreated depression or depression that is not well controlled by medicine) or have suicidal thoughts.
  • Pay close attention to any changes, especially sudden changes, in mood, behaviors, thoughts or feelings, or worsening depression. This is especially important when XENAZINE is started and when the dose is changed.
  • Do not take XENAZINE if you have liver problems or are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or reserpine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure. At least 20 days should pass after stopping reserpine before starting XENAZINE.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, breast-feeding, have breast cancer or a history of breast cancer, or have heart disease or an irregular heartbeat.
  • Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. Do not start any new medicines while taking XENAZINE without talking to your doctor first.
  • Take XENAZINE exactly as prescribed by your doctor. The need for therapy should be evaluated on an ongoing basis with your doctor. The dose of XENAZINE should be adjusted slowly over several weeks for a dose that is appropriate for you. Tell your doctor if you stop taking XENAZINE for more than 5 days. Do not take another dose until you talk to your doctor. If your doctor thinks you need to take more than 50 mg of XENAZINE each day, you will need to have a blood test to see if a higher dose is right for you.
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS) is a potentially fatal side effect reported with XENAZINE. Call your doctor right away and go to the nearest emergency room if you develop these signs and symptoms that do not have another obvious cause: high fever, stiff muscles, problems thinking, very fast or uneven heartbeat, or increased sweating. XENAZINE should be stopped immediately if NMS is diagnosed.
  • XENAZINE can also cause other serious side effects, including: parkinsonism (slight shaking, body stiffness, trouble moving, or keeping your balance), restlessness (akathisia), trouble swallowing, irregular heartbeat, and dizziness due to blood pressure changes when you change position (orthostatic hypotension). Trouble swallowing may increase the risk of pneumonia. Uncontrolled movements called tardive dyskinesia (TD) may also develop in patients treated with XENAZINE. It is possible that the TD will not go away.
  • The risk of side effects, such as irregular heartbeat, parkinsonism, NMS, and restlessness (akathisia), may be increased when using XENAZINE with other drugs (e.g., dopamine antagonists or antipsychotics).
  • Sleepiness is a common side effect of XENAZINE; do not drive a car or operate dangerous machinery until you know how XENAZINE affects you. Alcohol and other drugs may increase sleepiness caused by XENAZINE.
  • Some side effects, such as depression, tiredness, trouble sleeping, sleepiness, parkinsonism, agitation, and restlessness (akathisia), may be dose-dependent. If the side effects don’t stop or lessen, your doctor should consider lowering the dose or stopping your XENAZINE. The most commonly reported side effects in studies with XENAZINE were sleepiness, trouble sleeping, depression, tiredness, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, and nausea.

For more information, please see the full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning, the Medication Guide or go to www.XenazineUSA.com.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Sources:

  1. "FDA Approves First Drug for Treatment of Chorea in Huntington's Disease", FDA News Release, August 15, 2008: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2008/ucm116936.htm. Updated April 15, 2013. Accessed August 17, 2015.