If you have certain conditions that cause involuntary body movements, your doctor might suggest Austedo (deutetrabenazine) as a treatment option for you.

Austedo is a prescription drug that’s used in adults with:

Austedo belongs to a group of drugs called selective vesicular monoamine transporter 2 inhibitors. Austedo comes as a tablet that you take by mouth, usually once or twice daily.

If Austedo works for you, your doctor will likely recommend that you take it as a long-term treatment. For more information about Austedo, see this in-depth article on the drug.

Like other drugs, Austedo can cause mild or serious side effects. Keep reading to learn more.

Below are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people who took Austedo in studies. These side effects can vary depending on the condition the drug is being used to treat.

More common side effects in people taking Austedo for chorea related to Huntington’s disease include:

More common side effects in people taking Austedo for tardive dyskinesia include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see “Side effects explained” below.

You may experience mild side effects from taking Austedo. These side effects may vary depending on the condition you’re using Austedo to treat.

Mild side effects reported in people taking Austedo for chorea related to Huntington’s disease include:

Mild side effects reported in people taking Austedo for tardive dyskinesia include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see “Side effects explained” below.

In most cases, these side effects should be temporary. Some may be easily managed, too. But if you have any symptoms that are ongoing or that bother you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Don’t stop using Austedo unless your doctor recommends it.

Austedo may cause mild side effects other than the ones listed above. See the Austedo medication guide for details.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Austedo, visit MedWatch.

In rare cases, Austedo may cause serious side effects in some people. Serious side effects that have been reported with Austedo include:

If you develop serious side effects while taking Austedo, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

* Austedo has a boxed warning for this side effect. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
† To learn more about this side effect, see “Side effects explained” below.
‡ An allergic reaction is possible after using Austedo. But this side effect wasn’t reported in studies.

Learn more about some of the side effects Austedo may cause.

Risk of depression and suicidal behavior

Austedo has a boxed warning for the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts or behaviors in people with Huntington’s disease. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

People with Huntington’s disease who take Austedo may have a higher risk for depression or suicidal thoughts or behaviors. If you’ve ever had thoughts of self-harm, talk with your doctor before using Austedo. They can discuss the risks and benefits of Austedo with you.

What might help

Throughout your treatment with Austedo, your doctor will monitor you for symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts or behaviors. If you do experience these, it’s important that you contact your doctor or get emergency help right away.

If you have a history of depression or suicidal thoughts, your doctor may monitor you more often throughout your treatment with Austedo. If you have symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts, you should treat your depression before starting Austedo. You should not take Austedo if you are depressed or if you have current thoughts of suicide. This medication can make your symptoms worse.

Symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts and behaviors may include:

  • lack of interest in activities that used to excite you
  • feeling sad or anxious
  • fatigue (lack of energy)
  • changes in your appetite or sleep
  • thoughts of self-harm

Before taking Austedo, talk with your doctor about your medical history. Throughout your treatment, your doctor will monitor your mood to be sure that this medication isn’t having a negative effect on you.

SUICIDE PREVENTION

If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
  • Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Parkinsonism

Parkinsonism may occur from taking Austedo. Although it’s uncommon, parkinsonism may happen in people taking Austedo for either tardive dyskinesia or chorea that’s related to Huntington’s disease.

Parkinsonism causes movement problems. Symptoms of Parkinsonism may include:

What might help

Your doctor will monitor you for symptoms of Parkinsonism during your treatment with Austedo. Most cases of Parkinsonism occur within the first 2 weeks of Austedo treatment or after increasing your dose. In most cases, Parkinsonism should go away after you stop taking Austedo.

If you develop symptoms of Parkinsonism while taking Austedo, tell your doctor. They may lower your dose of Austedo to see if your symptoms ease. In some cases, they may recommend that you stop taking Austedo and try a different medication to treat your condition.

Long QT syndrome

Taking Austedo may increase your risk for long QT syndrome, a heart rhythm problem that can be very serious. You may have a higher risk for long QT syndrome if you take other medications that also increase your risk for this side effect.

Symptoms of long QT syndrome may include:

What might help

If you develop symptoms of long QT syndrome, tell your doctor right away. Your doctor will also monitor you throughout your Austedo treatment to watch for signs of this condition. If you have any questions about your risk for long QT syndrome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Diarrhea

Some people may experience diarrhea while using Austedo. In studies, diarrhea was one of the most common side effects reported in people taking Austedo who had chorea related to Huntington’s disease.

What might help

If you experience diarrhea during your Austedo treatment, talk with your doctor. They can recommend treatment to help relieve this side effect.

Allergic reaction

Like most drugs, Austedo can cause an allergic reaction in some people. But this side effect wasn’t reported in studies.

Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What might help

If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest an over-the-counter oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), or a topical product, such as hydrocortisone cream, to manage your symptoms.

If your doctor confirms you had a mild allergic reaction to Austedo, they’ll decide if you should continue using it.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your doctor confirms you had a serious allergic reaction to Austedo, they may have you switch to a different treatment.

Keeping track of side effects

During your Austedo treatment, consider keeping notes on any side effects you’re having. Then, you can share this information with your doctor. This is especially helpful to do when you first start taking new drugs or using a combination of treatments.

Your side effect notes can include things such as:

  • what dose of drug you were taking when you had the side effect
  • how soon after starting that dose you had the side effect
  • what your symptoms were from the side effect
  • how it affected your daily activities
  • what other medications you were also taking
  • any other information you feel is important

Keeping notes and sharing them with your doctor will help your doctor learn more about how a drug affects you. Your doctor can use this information to adjust your treatment plan if needed.

Austedo has some warnings that you should be aware of before taking this medication. See below for details.

Boxed warning: Risk of depression and suicidal behavior

Austedo has a boxed warning for the risk of depression and suicidal behavior in people with Huntington’s disease. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

People with Huntington’s disease who take Austedo may have a higher risk for depression and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

To learn more, see the “Side effects explained” section above.

Other warnings

Austedo may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Austedo. The list below includes factors to consider.

Certain heart rhythm conditions that affect your QT interval. Austedo can raise your risk for developing a heart rhythm problem called long QT syndrome. If you already have a condition that affects your heart’s QT interval, Austedo may make your condition worse. Tell your doctor about any heart conditions that you have before you start Austedo treatment.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Austedo or any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t take Austedo. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.

Liver problems. If you have any liver problems, tell your doctor before using Austedo. This drug is cleared from your body by your liver. If your liver isn’t working correctly, your body may not be able to get rid of the drug. This can cause the levels of the drug to build up in your body, which can raise your risk for side effects. If you have certain liver problems, your doctor may recommend a different medication for your condition instead of Austedo.

Alcohol use and Austedo

Alcohol and Austedo can both make you feel drowsy or tired. Drinking alcohol while you’re taking Austedo can make these side effects worse.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about how much (if any) is safe for you to drink during your Austedo treatment.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Austedo

It’s not known if Austedo is safe to take during pregnancy. It’s also unknown whether it’s safe to take while breastfeeding. This is because studies haven’t found whether the drug passes into breast milk or what effects it may have on a breastfed child.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant or to breastfeed, talk with your doctor before starting Austedo treatment. They may recommend a different treatment option for your condition.

Austedo can be an effective treatment for chorea that’s related to Huntington’s disease or for tardive dyskinesia. Some people taking Austedo may experience side effects. But in most cases, side effects from this medication are mild.

If you have questions about side effects that Austedo may cause, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Here are some examples of questions that you may want to ask:

  • How should I treat side effects if I experience any?
  • Based on my condition, what side effects am I most likely to experience?
  • If I experience side effects from Austedo, what other treatment options are available for my condition?
  • What can I do to lower my risk for side effects with this drug?

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.