Generic Name: clopidogrel, Oral tablet

Generic Name:

clopidogrel, Oral tablet

Plavix

All Brands

  • Plavix
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for clopidogrel

Oral tablet
1

Clopidogrel is an oral drug that prevents blood clots from forming. It’s used to prevent heart attack and stroke. It is prescribed for people who have had a previous heart attack or stroke or poor circulation in the legs (peripheral arterial disease).

2

Your doctor will decide your first (loading) dose based on your condition. The maintenance dose is 75 mg taken by mouth one time per day.

3

The most common side effect that occurs with clopidogrel is bleeding. This can be life-threatening. You should tell your doctors or dentists that you’re taking clopidogrel before having any procedures done. You may need to stop taking this drug for a short time before a procedure to prevent bleeding. Your doctor will let you know.

4

Clopidogrel is broken down by your liver. Some people have differences in how one of the liver enzymes, cytochrome p-450 2C19 (CYP2C19), works. This could slow how this drug is broken down by your body and make it not work as well. Your doctor may test you to see if you have this enzyme difference.

5

Your doctor will do complete blood counts during treatment to check if this medicine is working.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA Warning

This drug has a Black Box Warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients to potentially dangerous effects.

Liver function warning. Clopidogrel is broken down by your liver. Some people have genetic differences in how one of the liver enzymes, cytochrome p-450 2C19 (CYP2C19), works. This could slow how this drug is broken down in your body and make it not work as well. Your doctor may test you to see if you have this genetic difference. If you have it, your doctor will prescribe other treatments or drugs instead of clopidogrel.

Risk of serious bleeding

This drug can cause serious and sometimes fatal bleeding. Clopidogrel may make you bruise and bleed more easily, have nosebleeds, and it will take longer than usual for bleeding to stop. You should tell your doctor about any serious bleeding, such as:

  • unexplained, prolonged, or excessive bleeding
  • blood in your urine or stool

Surgery/procedure

You should tell your doctors or dentists that you’re taking clopidogrel before having any procedures done. You may need to stop taking this drug for a short time before a procedure to prevent bleeding. Your doctor will let you know when to stop taking this medication and when it’s OK to take it again.

Drug features

Clopidogrel is a prescription drug. It is available as an oral tablet.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you may need to take it with other drugs. Your doctor will decide if you should use this drug with other drugs, such as aspirin.

Why it's used

Clopidogrel is used to prevent blood clots if you have chest pain, poor circulation in your legs (peripheral arterial disease), a heart attack, or stroke.

How it works

Clopidogrel belongs to a class of drugs called platelet inhibitors or thienopyridine class inhibitors of P2Y12 ADP platelet receptors.

More Details

How it works

Clopidogrel belongs to a class of drugs called platelet inhibitors or thienopyridine class inhibitors of P2Y12 ADP platelet receptors. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly. They have a similar chemical structure and are often used to treat similar conditions.

Platelets are blood cells that help your blood clot normally. Clopidogrel helps prevent platelets from sticking together. This stops them from forming blood clots.

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clopidogrel Side Effects

Oral tablet

Most Common Side Effects

The more common side effects that can occur with clopidogrel include:

  • bleeding

  • itchy skin

If you have itchy skin, it may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If it is 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:

  • Serious, life-threatening bleeding. Symptoms can include:

    • unexplained bleeding or bleeding that lasts a long time
    • blood in your urine (pink, red, or brown-colored urine)
    • red or black stools that look like tar
    • unexplained bruises or bruises that get larger
    • coughing up blood or blood clots
    • vomiting blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Blood-clotting problem called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). This condition can happen after you take clopidogrel, even if you only take it for less than 2 weeks. In TTP, blood clots form in blood vessels anywhere in the body. Get medical help right away if you have any of these symptoms: 

    • purplish spots (purpura) on your skin or in your mouth (mucous membrane) due to bleeding under the skin
    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
    • tiredness or weakness
    • pale-looking skin
    • fever
    • fast heart rate or shortness of breath
    • headache
    • trouble speaking or understanding language (aphasia)
    • confusion
    • coma
    • stroke
    • seizure
    • low amount of urine, or urine that’s pink or has blood in it
    • stomach pain
    • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
    • vision loss
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Clopidogrel does not cause drowsiness.

Clopidogrel increases your risk of bleeding.

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.
SECTION 3 of 5

clopidogrel May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Clopidogrel can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Alcohol interaction

Alcohol can increase your risk of bleeding while you’re taking this drug.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Stomach acid drugs (proton pump inhibitors)
  • omeprazole
  • esomeprazole

You shouldn’t take clopidogrel with these drugs. They can make clopidogrel less effective.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Such as:

  • ibuprofen
  • naproxen

Taking clopidogrel with NSAIDs may increase your risk of bleeding in your stomach and intestines.

Blood thinners
  • warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)

Both of these medicines work to thin the blood in different ways. Taking them together increases your risk of bleeding.

Drugs used to treat depression
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) 

Using these medicines with clopidogrel may increase the risk of bleeding. 

Salicylates
  • aspirin

Aspirin should be taken with clopidogrel if you have acute coronary syndrome. These medicines shouldn’t be taken together if you have had a recent stroke because they increase your risk of major bleeding.

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.

People with active bleeding

You shouldn’t take clopidogrel if you have an active bleed (brain bleed) or a medical condition that causes bleeding (such as a stomach or bowel ulcer). Clopidogrel prevents clotting and increases your risk of bleeding.

People with an allergy to thienopyridines

You shouldn’t take clopidogrel if you have an active bleed (brain bleed) or a medical condition that causes bleeding (such as a stomach or bowel ulcer). Clopidogrel prevents clotting and increases your risk of bleeding.

People with a recent stroke

You shouldn’t take this drug with aspirin if you’ve recently had a stroke. It can increase your risk of serious bleeding.

Pregnant women

Clopidogrel is pregnancy category B. That means two things:

  1. Studies of the drug in pregnant animals have not shown risk to the fetus.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in pregnant women to show the drug poses a risk to the fetus.

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Clopidogrel should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if clopidogrel passes into breastmilk. If it does, it may cause serious effects in a child who is breastfed.

You and your doctor may need to decide if you’ll take clopidogrel or breastfeed.

For children

The safety and effectiveness of clopidogrel hasn’t been established in children younger than 18 years.

When to call the doctor

  • Call your doctor if you’re starting or stopping medicines. This way, they can make sure that clopidogrel and the other medicines are safe to take together.
  • Call your doctor if you’re planning to have surgery or a dental procedure. Your doctor may tell you to stop taking clopidogrel at least 5 days before your procedure to avoid severe bleeding during surgery. Don’t stop taking clopidogrel without talking to your doctor first.

Allergies

Clopidogrel can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms may include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. You also shouldn’t take this drug if you’re allergic to thienopyridines (ticlopidine, clopidogrel). Taking it a second time after an allergic reaction could be fatal.

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How to Take clopidogrel (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it 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?

Acute coronary syndrome

Brand: Plavix

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 75 mg and 300 mg

Generic: Clopidogrel

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 75 mg and 300 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndrome (UA/NSTEMI):

  • The starting (loading) dose is 300 mg taken by mouth one time.
  • The maintenance dose is 75 mg taken by mouth one time per day.
  • Your doctor will also prescribe aspirin with this drug. The standard aspirin dosage is 75–325 mg taken one time per day. Be sure to take the amount prescribed by your doctor.

ST-elevation acute coronary syndrome (STEMI):

  • You may or may not need a loading dose of 300 mg taken by mouth one time.
  • The maintenance dose is 75 mg taken by mouth one time per day.
  • Your doctor will also prescribe aspirin with this drug. The standard aspirin dosage is 75–325 mg taken one time per day. Be sure to take the amount prescribed by your doctor. You may also need to take a thrombolytic drug.
Child dosage (ages 0-17 years)

This medicine hasn’t been studied in children and shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Peripheral arterial disease

Brand: Plavix

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 75 mg and 300 mg

Generic: Clopidogrel

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 75 mg and 300 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

The recommended dose is 75 mg taken by mouth one time per day. 

Child dosage (ages 0-17 years)

This medicine hasn’t been studied in children and shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

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
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

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

If you don’t take it at all or miss doses

If you don’t take clopidogrel at all or miss doses, you increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. These conditions can be fatal.

If you have to temporarily stop taking clopidogrel, start taking it again as soon as your doctor tells you to. Stopping this drug may increase your risk of serious heart conditions, stroke, or a blood clot in the legs or lungs.

If you take too much

If you take too much clopidogrel, you could have serious side effects. These include bleeding. Call your healthcare provider or poison control center right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

If you miss a dose, take clopidogrel as soon as you remember. If it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose. Take only one dose at your regular time.

Don’t take two doses of clopidogrel at the same time unless your doctor tells you to.

How to tell if the drug is working

This drug may be working if you don’t have a heart attack or stroke.

Clopidogrel is a long-term drug treatment.

Store clopidogrel at room temperature near 77°F (25°C)

This medication can be stored for a short time between 59ºF (15ºC) and 86°F (30°C).

Keep your drugs away from areas where they could get wet, such as bathrooms. Store this drug away from moisture and damp locations.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt this medication.
  • Keep the original prescription label with you. You may need to show airport staff your pharmacy’s label to clearly identify the medication.
  • Don’t leave this medicine in in the car, especially when the temperature is hot or freezing.

Self-management

Your doctor will teach you and family members the symptoms of a heart attack, stroke, or blood clot in your legs or lungs. If you have symptoms of these problems, you should go to the emergency room or call 9-1-1 right away.

Clinical monitoring

Before starting treatment with clopidogrel, your doctor may do a genetic test to check if you have the CYP2C19 genotype. This slows how clopidogrel is broken down. If you have this genotype, this drug may not work for you. This test will help your doctor decide if you should take clopidogrel.

To make sure your medicine is working and is safe for you, your doctor will check the following:

  • complete blood count (CBC)
  • signs of bleeding

Not every pharmacy stocks the brand Plavix, so call ahead

Most pharmacies stock the generic clopidogrel. The 300-mg strength tablet might not be stocked, so call ahead.

Hidden costs

If you’re being treated for a certain medical condition, you might have to take clopidogrel with aspirin.

Are there any alternatives?

There are several medications in this class and others to treat your condition. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

What does the pill look like?

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How Much Does clopidogrel Cost?

Oral tablet
We've partnered with GoodRX so you can compare prices and save money on your next prescription. Check out the lowest cash prices below and enter your zip code to find the best deal near you.

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Lowest price for clopidogrel

Walmart $9.01
Sams Club $9.01
Kroger Pharmacy $11.81
These represent the lowest cash prices for clopidogrel and may be lower than your insurance.

Find the lowest prices of clopidogrel near you

These represent the lowest cash prices for clopidogrel and 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 August 10, 2015

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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