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Generically: Pilocarpine (oral) PYE-loe KAR-peen“PYE-loe”
Brand name: Salagen
Dosage format: Oral tablet (5 mg; 7.5 mg)
Drug class: Cholinergic agonists

What is Pilocarpine?

Pilocarpine influences the nervous system and boosts saliva secretion in the mouth. Pilocarpine helps treat dry mouth caused by Sjogren's syndrome or radiation treatment for neck and head cancer. Pilocarpine is also used for reasons not mentioned in this guideline.

Side effects of Pilocarpine

See a doctor immediately. If you experience any of the following symptoms that indicate reactions to an allergen: hives; trouble breathing; or swelling of your lips, face, and tongue.

Pilocarpine could cause serious adverse reactions. Stop taking pilocarpine immediately and contact your doctor immediately. If you suffer from:

  • Breath shortness;
  • Rapid, or high, or
  • Extreme headache severe headache, pounding neck or ear;
  • Confusion, tremors, or
  • Feeling lightheaded, like you're about to pass out.

Common adverse reactions to pilocarpine can be:

  • Increased sweating increased sweating and more frequent urination than normal;
  • The feeling of chills or flushing (warmth redness, chills, or tingly sensation);
  • Headache, dizziness, weakness;
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
  • Eyes that are blurred, eyes with watery lenses, or
  • Nasal runny.

This isn't an exhaustive list of possible side effects, and other side effects could occur. Contact your physician for advice regarding medical adverse effects. You can report symptoms to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Similar/related drugs

Glycerin topical, Salagen, Biotene Mouthwash, Mouth Kote, Biotene Moisturizing Mouth Spray, NeutraSal


Pilocarpine should not be used when you suffer from small-angle glaucoma or asthma that is not treated or controlled.

Prior to use this drug

Pilocarpine should not be used when you are allergic to it or suffer from:

  • untreated, uncontrolled, or untreated asthma or
  • narrow-angle glaucoma.

To make sure that pilocarpine is appropriate for you, ask your doctor if you suffer from:

  • asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive lung illness (COPD), or another breathing disorder;
  • Glaucoma or problems with vision;
  • the liver condition;
  • kidney disease;
  • Heart disease;
  • gallbladder issues;
  • mental illness;
  • If you take blood pressure or heart medicine or
  • If you are using a bronchodilator to treat a breathing disorder,

FDA classification for pregnancy C It's not clear whether pilocarpine can harm an unborn baby. Consult your physician if you are expecting or planning to become pregnant while taking pilocarpine.

It is unclear if pilocarpine can be found in the breast milk of a nursing baby or whether it can harm nursing babies. It is not recommended to breastfeed while taking this medicine.

How to take pilocarpine?

Follow the instructions on the prescription label. Don't take this medication in greater or lesser quantities or for longer than prescribed. Pilocarpine can be taken in combination with food or not. Drink plenty of fluids while you take pilocarpine. The medicine may cause more sweating, and you could become dehydrated very easily. Make sure you take pilocarpine on a regular basis to reap the greatest benefits. Refill your prescription prior to running out of the medicine completely. Place it in a cool, dry place free of heat and moisture.

Details on dosage

Usual Adult Dose for Xerostomia:

Initial dosage: 5 mg orally, 3 times per day.
Maintenance dosage: 15–30 mg daily, administered in doses divided

Doses are to be adjusted based on the individual patient's tolerance and response.
The dose with the lowest effectiveness is recommended for maintenance.
Single doses must not be more than 10 mg.
At least 12 weeks of treatment could be required to determine if treatment can result in a positive response.

Treatment: Treating the symptoms of dry mouth due to an insufficient salivary gland due to radiotherapy for neck and head cancer

Usual Adult Dose for Sjogren's Syndrome:

5 mg orally, 4 times per day

Comment: Efficacy was usually determined by the sixth week after use. Treatment for dry mouth issues in those suffering from Sjogren's syndrome

What happens if I miss the dose?

You should take the missed dose as soon as you can remember. Do not take your missed dosage if it's close to the time of the next dose. Don't take any extra medication to make up for the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Get medical attention immediately or contact the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222. Pilocarpine in excess can cause death in extremely large doses.

What should be avoided?

Pilocarpine can create blurred eyes, notably at night or in low light. Be cautious if you drive or engage in any activity that requires you to clearly see.

Be aware of the dangers of becoming too hot during exercise or in hot temperatures. Pilocarpine may cause sweating to increase and make you more susceptible to dehydration.

Interaction with other drugs

Other medications can be incompatible with pilocarpine, such as prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Inform your health professionals about any medications you take currently and all medicines you stop or start using.