What is pilocarpine?

Pilocarpine is an agent that affects the nervous system. Pilocarpine increases saliva secretion in the mouth.

Pilocarpine is used in the treatment of dry mouth.

Pilocarpine may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.


Before taking pilocarpine, talk to your doctor if you have:

  • glaucoma or other eye problems
  • asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or other breathing or lung problems;
  • heart problems;
  • gallbladder problems;
  • mental problems;
  • stomach problems;
  • abnormal blood pressure or blood vessel problems;
  • kidney problems; or
  • liver problems.

You may not be able to take pilocarpine or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you have any of the conditions listed above.

Pilocarpine is in the FDA pregnancy category C. This means that it is not known whether pilocarpine will be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not take pilocarpine without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether pilocarpine passes into breast milk. Do not take pilocarpine without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Pilocarpine may cause changes in vision, especially at night. Use caution when driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities. If you experience changes in vision, avoid these activities.

Dehydration may be more likely to occur during treatment with pilocarpine, due to increased sweating. Use caution when exercising and when exposed to hot weather. Drink plenty of fluid to maintain adequate hydration.

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Seek emergency medical attention if an overdose is suspected.

Symptoms of a pilocarpine overdose may include headache, hallucinations, visual disturbances, sweating, chest pain, abnormal heart rate, abnormal blood pressure, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, tremors, or confusion.

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next regularly scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and take the next one as directed. Do not take a double dose of pilocarpine unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

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Side effects

Stop taking pilocarpine and seek emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following uncommon but serious side effects:

  • an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);
  • difficulty breathing;
  • irregular heartbeats;
  • eye pain; or
  • confusion or changes in mental status or behavior.

Other, less serious side effects may also occur. Continue to take pilocarpine and talk to your doctor if you experience

  • changes in vision;
  • increased sweating;
  • dizziness;
  • headache;
  • runny nose;
  • nausea;
  • redness of the face and neck;
  • chills; or
  • an increased urge to urinate.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Before taking pilocarpine, tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:

  • a heart or blood pressure medication;
  • a seizure medication;
  • a medication for Parkinson's disease or other medications for muscle control;
  • an antihistamine or allergy medications;
  • a medication for motion sickness;
  • an antidepressant or antipsychotic medication; or
  • a medication for stomach problems.

You may not be able to take pilocarpine, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during your treatment if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.

Drugs other than those listed here also interact with pilocarpine. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products.

Other Names

Salagen and pilocarpine

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Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 2.05. Revision date 8/23/04

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