Bromocriptine | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

bromocriptine, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Parlodel
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Highlights for bromocriptine

Oral tablet
1

Bromocriptine is used to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It’s also used to treat symptoms of other conditions that are caused by very high levels of certain hormones. These hormones include prolactin or growth hormone.

2

Bromocriptine comes in the form of a tablet and a capsule. Both forms are taken by mouth

3

Bromocriptine is only available as a generic drug.

4

The more common side effects of this drug include nausea, headache, drowsiness, dizziness, or stomach upset.

5

Bromocriptine can cause intense urges to do things such as spend money, gamble, or binge eat. Tell your doctor right away if you have these urges.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Drowsiness

While taking bromocriptine, you may have sudden drowsiness, or fall asleep without warning. Avoid driving or using machinery until you know how this drug affects you.

Low blood pressure

When first starting bromocriptine, you may have episodes of low blood pressure that can cause dizziness or fainting. These episodes occur more often when you stand after sitting or lying down. This is called orthostatic hypotension. To help prevent this, move slowly when changing positions.

Heart attack, stroke, or seizure

In some cases, bromocriptine can cause heart attack, stroke, or seizures. The risk may be higher in women who have just given birth and take this drug to reduce the amount of milk they produce. It may also be higher in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Compulsive behaviors

Bromocriptine may cause intense urges to gamble, spend money, or binge eat. It may also cause increased sexual urges or other intense urges. You may not be able to control these urges. Tell your doctor right away if you have any of these urges.

What is bromocriptine?

Bromocriptine is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of a tablet and a capsule that you take by mouth.

Bromocriptine is available as the brand-name drug Parlodel. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.

Bromocriptine is often used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications. It can also be used in combination with surgery or radiation to treat certain conditions.

Why it's used

Bromocriptine is used to treat several conditions. Bromocriptine helps reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but it doesn’t cure it. It also treats some conditions caused by high levels of certain hormones in the body. Bromocriptine reduces these hormone levels, which in turn treats the conditions.

How it works

Bromocriptine belongs to a class of drugs called ergot derivatives. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

How it works

Bromocriptine belongs to a class of drugs called ergot derivatives. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Bromocriptine works in different ways, depending on the condition it’s being used to treat:

  • Bromocriptine stimulates dopamine receptors in the brain. This helps to lessen symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and other parkinsonism disorders.
  • Bromocriptine reduces the amount of the hormone prolactin that’s produced by the body. Lowering the levels of this hormone helps treat galactorrhea (excessive lactation or milk production) or infertility. It also helps treat hypogonadism (a condition where the body doesn’t produce enough testosterone).
  • Bromocriptine lowers levels of growth hormone in the body. This helps treat acromegaly, a condition that causes excessive growth of the hands, feet, and face.
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bromocriptine Side Effects

Oral tablet

More common side effects

The more common side effects that can occur with use of bromocriptine include:

  • nausea

  • headache

  • stomach upset

  • dizziness

  • drowsiness

  • feeling faint

  • fainting

  • suddenly falling asleep (especially in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease)

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Heart attack. Symptoms can include:

    • chest pain
    • shortness of breath
    • discomfort in your upper body
  • Stroke. Symptoms can include:

    • weakness in one part or side of your body
    • slurred speech
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (scarring in the lungs). Symptoms can include:

    • trouble breathing
    • cough
    • tiredness
    • unexplained weight loss
    • aching muscles or joints
    • changes in the shape of the fingers or toes
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Bromocriptine can cause dizziness and drowsiness during the first few hours after you take it. This happens more often when you first start taking the drug. Avoid driving or using heavy machinery if you have extreme drowsiness while taking this drug.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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bromocriptine May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Bromocriptine can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. 

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Alcohol interaction

Bromocriptine can cause drowsiness or dizziness. The use of drinks that contain alcohol while taking this drug can make these symptoms worse.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Antibiotics

When used with bromocriptine, certain antibiotics can increase the amount of bromocriptine in your body. This raises your risk of side effects from bromocriptine. Examples of these drugs include: 

  • erythromycin
  • clarithromycin
  • azithromycin

HIV drugs

When used with bromocriptine, certain drugs used to treat HIV can increase the amount of bromocriptine in your body. This raises your risk of side effects from bromocriptine. Some of these HIV drugs include: 

  • ritonavir
  • lopinavir
  • saquinavir

Psychiatric drugs

When used with bromocriptine, certain drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders can make bromocriptine less effective. This means it may not work well to treat your condition. Examples of these psychiatric drugs include: 

  • haloperidol
  • pimozide
  • thioridazine

Other drugs

Metoclopramide is used to treat several conditions, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Using this drug with bromocriptine can make bromocriptine less effective. This means it may not work well to treat your condition.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Bromocriptine warnings
liver disease
People with liver disease

It’s not known how safe or effective bromocriptine is for people with liver disease. Talk with your doctor about whether taking this drug is safe for you.

kidney disease
People with kidney disease

It’s not known how safe or effective bromocriptine is for people with kidney disease. Talk with your doctor about whether taking this drug is safe for you.

history of psychosis
People with a history of psychosis

Bromocriptine can worsen psychotic conditions. Talk with your doctor about whether taking this drug is safe for you.

cardiovascular disease
People with a history of cardiovascular disease

Bromocriptine can worsen this condition. Talk with your doctor about whether taking this drug is safe for you.

sugar intolerance
People with certain types of sugar intolerance

You shouldn’t take bromocriptine if you have certain types of sugar intolerance. These include galactose intolerance, severe lactase deficiency, or problems with absorbing certain types of sugars.

Pregnant women
Pregnant women

Bromocriptine is a category B pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals hasn’t shown a risk to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in humans to show if the drug poses a risk to the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Animal studies don’t always predict the way humans would respond. Therefore, this drug should only be used in pregnancy if clearly needed. 

breast-feeding
Women who are breast-feeding

Bromocriptine may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed. Bromocriptine shouldn’t be used by mothers who are breast-feeding their child.

children
For children

The safety and effectiveness of bromocriptine haven’t been established to treat most conditions in children younger than 8 years.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

allergies
Allergies

Bromocriptine can cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • skin rash
  • swelling of the tongue or throat

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room. 

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take bromocriptine (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Hyperprolactinemia-associated disorders

Generic: bromocriptine

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2.5 mg
Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 5 mg
Adult dosage (ages 16 years and older)
  • Typical starting dosage: ½ to 1 tablet or capsule (1.25–2.5 mg) once per day.
  • Increasing dosage: Your doctor may increase your dosage by 1 tablet or capsule every 2–7 days until your condition is controlled.
  • Typical daily dosage: 2.5–15 mg once per day.
Child dosage (ages 11–15 years)

Prolactin-secreting pituitary tumor is the only condition that bromocriptine has been studied to treat in children younger than 16 years. Clinical trials in adults support the use of bromocriptine in children ages 11–15 years to treat this condition.

For the treatment of prolactin-secreting pituitary tumor:

  • Typical starting dosage: ½ to 1 tablet or capsule (1.25–2.5 mg) once per day.
  • Increasing dosage: Your doctor may increase your child’s dosage as needed.
  • Typical daily dosage: 2.5–10 mg once per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–10 years)

It hasn’t been confirmed that bromocriptine is safe and effective for people younger than 11 years in the treatment of hyperprolactinemia-associated disorders.

Acromegaly

Generic: bromocriptine

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2.5 mg
Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 5 mg
Adult dosage (ages 16 years and older)
  • Typical starting dosage: ½ to 1 tablet or capsule (1.25–2.5 mg) once per day at bedtime for the first 3 days.
  • Increasing dosage: Your doctor may increase your dosage as needed every 3–7 days.
  • Typical daily dosage: 20–30 mg once per day.
  • Maximum daily dosage: 100 mg once per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–15 years)

It hasn’t been confirmed that bromocriptine is safe and effective for people younger than 16 years in the treatment of acromegaly.

Parkinson's disease

Generic: bromocriptine

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2.5 mg
Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 5 mg
Adult dosage (ages 16 years and older)
  • Typical starting dosage: ½ tablet  or capsule twice daily with meals.
  • Increasing dosage:  Your doctor may increase your dosage by 1 tablet or capsule every 14–28 days as needed.
  • Maximum daily dosage: 100 mg once per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–15 years)

It hasn’t been confirmed that bromocriptine is safe and effective for people younger than 16 years in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Bromocriptine comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

The condition you’re taking it for may not improve, and may get worse.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • sweating
  • dizziness
  • low blood pressure (with symptoms such as confusion, dizziness, or blurry vision)
  • extreme tiredness
  • unusual yawning
  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

The symptoms of your condition should improve.

Bromocriptine is used for short-term or long-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking bromocriptine
taken with food
Bromocriptine should be taken with food
timing
Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor
See Details
cut or crush the tablet
You can cut or crush the tablet
medication is refillable
A prescription for this medication is refillable
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travel
Travel
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not usually stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead

Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor

The time of day when you take bromocriptine depends on the reason you’re taking it. Your doctor or pharmacist will explain when to take this drug.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does bromocriptine Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for bromocriptine

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for bromocriptine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for bromocriptine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on March 24, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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