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GENERIC NAME: felodipine

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Felodipine is an oral calcium- channel blocker (CCB) of the dihydropyridine (DHP) class. Other calcium channel blockers in the DHP class include nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat), amlodipine (Norvasc), nisoldipine (Sular), nicardipine (Cardene), and isradipine (Dynacirc). Calcium is necessary for muscle cells to contract. Felodipine prevents calcium from being released within the muscle cells of the small arteries and thereby causes the muscles to relax and the arteries to dilate or expand. Felodipine has little or no effect on the muscles of veins or the heart . Felodipine was approved by the FDA in 1991.

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PREPARATIONS: Tablets: 2.5mg, 5mg, 10mg

STORAGE: Tablets should be stored below 86°F (30°C) and should be protected from light and moisture.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Felodipine is used to treat high blood pressure. It may be used alone or in combination with other agents. Felodipine also is used to treat patients with angina and is being studied in patients with congestive heart failure.

DOSING: Felodipine usually is taken once daily. It should be taken without food or with no more than a light meal since food may reduce its absorption. Taking felodipine with grapefruit juice increases its absorption and may lead to sudden drops in blood pressure. Since felodipine comes as a sustained-release tablet, it should be swallowed whole. It should not be chewed or crushed.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Blood levels of digoxin (Lanoxin) can be increased by felodipine. This could lead to digoxin-related side effects, such as vision changes. Cimetidine (Tagamet) can block the breakdown of felodipine, resulting in higher blood concentrations of felodipine and drops in blood pressure. Carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenobarbital, or phenytoin (Dilantin) can lower felodipine blood concentrations. Therefore, higher doses of felodipine may be necessary in patients receiving these medications.

PREGNANCY: The effects of felodipine in pregnant women have not been adequately studied. Animal studies have shown adverse effects. Therefore, the physician must weigh the potential risks to the fetus against the potential benefits to the mother.

NURSING MOTHERS: It is not known if felodipine is excreted in breast milk.

SIDE EFFECTS: Peripheral edema (swollen ankles and feet) and headache are the most common side effects of felodipine. Dizziness also may occur.

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