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What Is Clofazimine?

Article Details
  • Written By: L. Whitaker
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 20 May 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Clofazimine, sold in the United States under the brand name Lamprene®, is a prescription medication used in the treatment of Hansen's disease, commonly known as leprosy. This drug is often prescribed in conjunction with other leprosy treatments. As of 2011, it had not been well-studied for pediatric or geriatric populations and was not considered safe for pregnancy or breastfeeding.

In its trade format as Lamprene®, this medication is produced in a gelatin capsule containing 50 milligrams of a white crystalline powder. A typical dose of clofazimine is 50 or 100 milligrams daily for adults. Clofazimine should be taken at about the same time each day, with milk or in conjunction with a meal.

This medication is intended for long-term use. Some leprosy patients could take clofazimine for a period of two years or longer, and in some cases lifetime use could be necessary. Typically, it takes several months for the benefits of this drug to appear.

One potential side effect of clofazimine use is a discoloration of skin and eye pigmentation to reddish, pink, or brownish, which can occur several weeks after initiating use of the medication. Patients should be monitored for secondary depression, which can occur as a result of the pigmentation side effect. Changes in the color of the patient's urine, feces, tears, sweat, and mucus are also common. A physician's advice should be sought in the case of blackened or bloody-looking feces, which could indicate a serious medical issue.

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Other skin changes that can happen as a side effect of clofazamine use are hypersensitivity to sunlight and scaly or excessively dry skin. Patients using this medication are urged to take strict precautions against exposure to sunlight, due to the likelihood of severe reactions. Recommendations include wearing sunscreen, using clothing to cover bare skin, and staying inside during the middle of the day when sunlight is most intense.

Common side effects of clofazimine can include appetite changes, itchy skin, rash, or gastrointestinal disturbances. Some patients find that use of this drug can result in burning, dry, or itchy eyes. Food might also taste different to an individual who uses this prescription medicine.

Clofazimine typically is not prescribed during pregnancy, as case studies have shown that this medication can cause skin pigmentation changes or other negative effects to the fetus. This drug has been labeled a Category C drug due to lack of information about its safety for pregnancy. It is also contraindicated for individuals with any history of liver disease or certain gastrointestinal problems. Emergency medical attention is required for anyone who experiences severe stomach pain while taking clofazimine.

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