Austedo (deutetrabenazine)

Medically Reviewed By Heather Bruce, PharmD

This drug has a boxed warning, the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Austedo can increase the risk of depression and thoughts or actions of suicide in people with Huntington’s disease. (Austedo is used to treat chorea due to Huntington’s disease.) This risk is high in people who’ve had depression or have attempted suicide in the past.

Due to this risk, doctors may not prescribe Austedo for people with thoughts of suicide or depression that is not well-managed. And doctors will likely watch closely for symptoms of these conditions in people taking the drug.

To learn more, see the “ Austedo: Side effects” section below.

About Austedo

Austedo is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in adults to treat the conditions listed below.

  • Tardive dyskinesia (TD). With TD, you have repetitive and involuntary muscle movements that typically affect the face. This condition usually occurs as a side effect of certain medications.
  • Chorea due to Huntington’s disease. With chorea, you have uncontrollable and unpredictable body movements. This condition may be due to Huntington’s disease, which is a genetic (inherited) condition that affects the brain.

For details about these conditions and how the drug treats them, see the “Austedo: Uses” section below.

Key points

The following table provides key facts about Austedo.

Active drug deutetrabenazine
Drug class vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) inhibitor
Form oral tablet

Finding a healthcare professional

If you’re interested in taking this drug, search here to find a doctor who might prescribe it.

Austedo: Generic

Austedo contains the active drug deutetrabenazine. It only comes as a brand-name medication. And it isn’t currently available as a generic drug.

A generic is an identical copy of the active drug found in a brand-name medication. Generics typically cost less than brand-name drugs.

Austedo: Uses

Prescription drugs, such as Austedo, are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat certain conditions.

Using Austedo for tardive dyskinesia

The FDA has approved Austedo to treat tardive dyskinesia (TD) in adults.

With TD, you have repetitive and involuntary muscle movements. These typically affect the face but may also occur in the neck, arms, and legs. Common symptoms of TD include:

TD usually happens as a side effect of certain medications. Doctors may prescribe Austedo to ease symptoms of TD caused by these medications. Examples include antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol (Haldol). For a list of other medication examples, see this article.

Using Austedo for chorea due to Huntington’s disease

The FDA has approved Austedo to treat chorea in adults with Huntington’s disease.

With chorea, you have uncontrollable and unpredictable body movements. These movements usually affect the face, hands, and feet.

Chorea is a possible symptom of Huntington’s disease, which is a genetic (inherited) condition that affects the brain. Other symptoms of Huntington’s disease include:

  • trouble talking, eating, and swallowing
  • unsteady gait (movements related to walking)
  • rigid muscles
  • forgetfulness
  • personality changes, such as irritability or anxiety

Taking Austedo with other drugs  

Doctors can prescribe Austedo to ease symptoms of tardive dyskinesia (TD) caused by other medications. (See the “Using Austedo for tardive dyskinesia” section above to learn more.)

Examples of those other medications include antipsychotic drugs, such as haloperidol (Haldol). For a more complete list of medications that can cause TD, see this article

In some cases, your doctor may have you stop taking a medication that’s causing bothersome side effects, such as TD. However, if the drug that’s causing TD is working well to treat your condition, your doctor may have you keep taking it.

In this case, your doctor may prescribe Austedo to treat symptoms of TD. This allows you to continue taking the medication that’s working well for your condition, while easing one of its side effects.

Your doctor will recommend if Austedo should be taken in combination with other drugs.

Using Austedo in children

Doctors typically won’t prescribe Austedo for children. The drug is only approved for use in adults.

Finding a healthcare professional for Austedo

If you’re interested in taking Austedo, search here to find a doctor who might prescribe it. To prepare for your appointment, you can visit Healthgrades’ appointment guide for tardive dyskinesia.

Austedo: Side effects

As with most drugs, it’s possible to have side effects with Austedo. These can include some mild side effects but also some serious ones.

Side effects might differ slightly between people with Huntington’s disease and people with tardive dyskinesia.

To learn more about Austedo’s side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They may also provide information about managing certain side effects of this drug.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Austedo, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild and serious side effects

Mild and serious side effects of Austedo are listed in the table below. This table does not include all of Austedo’s possible side effects.

Mild side effects* Serious side effects
bruising QT prolongation (a type of abnormal heart rhythm)
dry mouth • feeling restless or agitated
fatigue inability to be still
• the common cold parkinsonism (a condition that causes abnormal body
movements)
• problems with sleep, such as sleepiness and insomnia neuroleptic malignant syndrome (a serious reaction to certain drugs that causes fever, fast heartbeat, rigid muscles, and confusion)
• digestive problems, such as diarrhea and constipation allergic reaction
  • risk of depression and thoughts or actions of suicide‡

* This is not a complete list of Austedo’s mild side effects. To learn about other mild side effects of this drug, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Or you can view the drug’s prescribing information.
† For more information about this side effect, see “Austedo’s side effects explained” below.
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 “Austedo’s side effects explained” section below.

Most times, mild side effects of a drug go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if any side effects become severe or don’t go away.

Serious side effects from Austedo aren’t common, but they are possible. If you have serious side effects, call your doctor right away. However, if you’re having a medical emergency or your symptoms feel life threatening, call 911 or a local emergency number.

Austedo’s side effects explained

Below, you can find detailed information about some of Austedo’s side effects. To learn more about other side effects of this medication, talk with your doctor. 

Risk of depression and thoughts or actions of suicide

Austedo has a boxed warning for the risk of depression and thoughts or actions of suicide in people with Huntington’s disease. This is a serious warning from the FDA.

Depression and thoughts of suicide were rare during clinical studies of Austedo in people with Huntington’s disease. In studies of people with tardive dyskinesia, depression was rare. And thoughts of suicide weren’t reported in this group of people. However, it’s possible that these side effects could happen regardless of the condition you’re using the drug to treat.

This risk is high in people who’ve had depression or have attempted suicide in the past. Due to this risk, doctors may not prescribe Austedo for people with thoughts of suicide or depression that is not well-managed. And doctors will likely monitor closely for these conditions in people taking the drug.

Symptoms that doctors may watch for include:

  • mood changes, such as anger, irritability, or agitation
  • feelings of isolation or hopelessness
  • sleep changes, such as sleeping more or less often than usual
  • losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • weight changes

What to do

Before taking Austedo, tell your doctor if you have depression that isn’t well-managed. Also tell them if you’ve attempted suicide or had thoughts of suicide in the past. They may prescribe a drug other than Austedo for you.

While taking Austedo, call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of new or worsened depression. However, if you have thoughts of suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 800-273-8255.

Click here for more links and local resources.

Digestive problems

Certain digestive problems are common with Austedo. To learn more about how often these side effects occurred in clinical studies, see the drug’s prescribing information.

Digestive problems with Austedo include diarrhea and constipation. With diarrhea, you may have loose or watery stools. However, with constipation, you may have trouble passing stools.

What to do

If you have bothersome digestive problems with Austedo, talk with your doctor. They can suggest ways to help ease your symptoms.

For example, they may suggest you use one of the following treatments:

  • for diarrhea:
    • loperamide (Imodium)
    • bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)
  • for constipation:
    • stool softeners, such as docusate (Colace)
    • laxatives, such as bisacodyl (Dulcolax)

Before taking new medications with Austedo, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They’ll make sure these are safe to take with Austedo.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Austedo. A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Although allergic reaction wasn’t reported in clinical studies of Austedo, it can still happen.

Possible symptoms of mild and serious allergic reactions are listed in the table below.

Mild allergic reaction symptoms Serious allergic reaction symptoms
flushing • swelling under your skin, possibly in your hands, feet, lips, or eyelids
rash • swelling in your throat or mouth
• itching trouble breathing

If you have an allergic reaction to Austedo, call your doctor right away. This is important to do because the reaction could become severe.

However, if you’re having a medical emergency or your symptoms feel life threatening, call 911 or a local emergency number.

Austedo: Dosage

Below, you’ll find dosages that are commonly recommended for Austedo. However, you should take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. They’ll recommend the dosage that’s best for your needs.

Most often, doctors start by prescribing a low dosage of Austedo. Then, they’ll change the dosage over time to an amount that’s right for the condition being treated. Doctors typically prescribe the smallest dosage that gives the desired outcome.

The dosage of Austedo that your doctor prescribes will depend on factors such as:

  • the condition you’re using Austedo to treat and the severity of the condition
  • how well your symptoms are managed with Austedo
  • side effects you may have with Austedo
  • other medications you’ve taken in the past or are currently taking

Austedo’s forms and strengths

Austedo is available as follows.

  • Form: oral tablet
  • Strengths: 6 milligrams (mg), 9 mg, and 12 mg

Austedo’s recommended dosages

Austedo is approved to treat tardive dyskinesia in adults. It’s also approved to treat chorea due to Huntington’s disease in adults.

Austedo’s recommended dosage for tardive dyskinesia is as follows.

  • Starting dosage: 6 mg twice daily
  • Maximum dosage: 48 mg daily

Austedo’s recommended dosage for chorea due to Huntington’s disease is as follows.

  • Starting dosage: 6 mg once daily
  • Maximum dosage: 48 mg daily

Doctors may prescribe a different dosage of Austedo depending on several factors, including whether you’re already taking tetrabenazine (Xenazine). (This is another drug that’s used for Huntington’s disease.) If you have questions about the dosage that’s right for you, talk with your doctor.

Dosage considerations

Below are some things to consider about Austedo’s dosage.

  • Missing a dose. Your doctor will recommend what to do about a missed dose of Austedo. That said, if you miss more than 1 week of Austedo doses in a row, call your doctor right away. Wait for their instructions before you start taking Austedo again. If you aren’t sure whether to take a missed dose or skip it, ask your doctor or pharmacist. View these medication reminder options to help avoid missing doses. You could also set an alarm, use a timer, or download a reminder app on your phone.
  • Length of treatment. Doctors typically prescribe Austedo as a long-term treatment. You’ll likely take it long term if you and your doctor feel it’s safe and effective for your condition.

Austedo: Questions you may have

Here are some common questions about Austedo and brief answers to them. If you’d like to know more about these topics, ask your doctor.

What should I know about Austedo vs. Ingrezza?

Both Austedo and Ingrezza are used to treat tardive dyskinesia in adults. To learn about this condition, see the “Austedo: Uses” section above.

Austedo’s active drug is deutetrabenazine, while Ingrezza’s active drug is valbenazine. Both medications belong to a class of drugs called vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) inhibitors. To learn more about how VMAT2 inhibitors work, see the “Austedo: How it works” section below.

For a detailed comparison of Austedo with Ingrezza, see this article. You can also talk with your doctor or pharmacist about which drug might be right for you.

How does Austedo compare with tetrabenazine (Xenazine)?

Both Austedo and Xenazine are used to treat chorea due to Huntington’s disease in adults. To learn about this condition, see the “Austedo: Uses” section above.

Austedo contains the active drug deutetrabenazine, while Xenazine contains the active drug tetrabenazine. Both drugs belong to a drug class called vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) inhibitors. To learn more about how VMAT2 inhibitors work, see the “Austedo: How it works” section below.

To learn more about how Austedo and Ingrezza are alike and different, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also see this article for a comparison.

Is Austedo used to treat Tourette’s syndrome?

Austedo isn’t approved to treat Tourette’s syndrome.

Tourette’s syndrome is a condition that causes a person to make unusual sounds or movements that they can’t control. Examples of symptoms include coughing, blinking, shouting, and eye-rolling.

If you’re interested in treatments for Tourette’s syndrome, talk with your doctor. They can recommend the best treatment option for you.

Austedo: Cost

Like other medications, prices for Austedo may vary. The drug’s price will depend on factors such as:

Cost considerations for Austedo

Here’s a list of things to consider when looking into the cost of Austedo.

  • Option for a 90-day supply. For some drugs, it’s possible to get a 90-day supply. If this option is approved by your insurance company, it can help lower the cost of the drug. It can also help you avoid frequent trips to your pharmacy. If you’d like to learn more about this option, ask your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company.
  • Need for prior authorization. Before insurance coverage for Austedo is approved, your insurance company may require prior authorization. In this case, your doctor and insurance company will communicate about your prescription for Austedo. Then, the insurance company will decide if the drug will be covered. To find out if you need prior authorization for Austedo, contact your insurance company.
  • Possible cost assistance options. Financial assistance to help lower the cost of Austedo is available. Teva Neuroscience, Inc., the manufacturer of the drug, offers a program called Shared Solutions. To learn more and see if you’re eligible for support, call 800-887-8100 or visit the manufacturer’s website. Also, check out this article to learn about ways to save on prescription drugs.
  • Use of a specialty pharmacy. Austedo may be dispensed from certain specialty pharmacies. These pharmacies are authorized to handle certain drugs considered specialty medications. These medications may be expensive or require help from healthcare professionals to be used safely and effectively. Ask your doctor if they’ll prescribe Austedo through a specialty pharmacy.
  • Use of a mail-order pharmacy. Austedo may be dispensed through mail-order pharmacies. Getting your prescription through a mail-order pharmacy could lower its cost. It can also allow you to get the drug without leaving home. To find out more about this option, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company.
  • Availability of a generic form. Austedo doesn’t come in a generic form. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. Typically, generics cost less than brand-name drugs.

Austedo: How it works

Austedo is approved to treat the conditions below.

  • Tardive dyskinesia (TD). With TD, you have repetitive and involuntary muscle movements that typically affect the face. This condition usually happens as a side effect of certain medications.
  • Chorea due to Huntington’s disease.With chorea, you have uncontrollable and unpredictable body movements. This condition may be due to Huntington’s disease, which is a genetic (inherited) condition that affects the brain.

To learn more about these conditions, see the “Austedo: Uses” section above.

Austedo belongs to a group of drugs called vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) inhibitors. Its mechanism of action (how it works) isn’t completely understood.

Austedo is thought to lower levels of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Having lower levels of these chemicals may help ease symptoms of TD and Huntington’s disease.

How long does Austedo take to start working?

It may take several weeks for the symptoms of your condition to ease after starting Austedo.

Austedo: How to take

Your doctor will recommend how you should take Austedo. It’s important that you take the drug exactly as your doctor instructs.

Austedo comes as an oral tablet. You’ll take the tablets by swallowing them.

Questions about taking Austedo

Here’s a list of common questions related to taking Austedo.

  • When should I take Austedo? You’ll likely take Austedo once or twice a day. If you take Austedo twice a day, try to take each dose about 12 hours apart. View these medication reminder options to help avoid missing doses. You could also set an alarm, use a timer, or download a reminder app on your phone.
  • Do I need to take Austedo with food? Yes, you’ll take each dose of Austedo with food.
  • Can Austedo be chewed, split, or crushed? No, you shouldn’t chew, split, or crush Austedo tablets. You’ll swallow them whole.
  • Is there a best time of day to take Austedo? There isn’t a best time of day to take Austedo. You can take the drug any time of day. However, if you take Austedo twice a day, you’ll take each dose about 12 hours apart. You may find it easiest to take one dose in the morning and one in the evening. Regardless, try to take your doses around the same time every day. This helps keep the drug level steady in your body, which allows Austedo to work well.

Austedo: Consuming alcohol during treatment

It’s recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol while taking Austedo. This is because alcohol can worsen certain side effects of the drug, such as sleepiness.

If you have questions about consuming alcohol during treatment with Austedo, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Austedo: Interactions

Austedo may interact with other medications. It is not known to interact with any supplements or foods.

Different interactions can cause different effects. Some interactions can interfere with a drug’s effectiveness. Others can increase a drug’s side effects or cause them to be severe.

If any of the interactions listed below pertain to you, talk with your doctor. They can tell you what you need to do to avoid the interaction.

  • Austedo and certain antidepressants. The manufacturer of Austedo advises that certain antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), should not be taken with Austedo. Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking the drugs below with Austedo:
    • selegiline (Zelapar)
    • tranylcypromine (Parnate)
    • phenelzine (Nardil)
  • Austedo and certain blood pressure drugs. The manufacturer of Austedo advises that certain blood pressure drugs should not be taken with Austedo. Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking the drug below with Austedo:
    • reserpine
  • Austedo and certain similar drugs. The manufacturer of Austedo advises that certain similar drugs should not be taken with Austedo. Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking the drugs below with Austedo:
  • Austedo and other medications. Because Austedo may interact with the following drugs, your doctor may recommend that you don’t take it with these drugs. Examples include:
  • Austedo and herbs and supplements. No herbs or supplements are known to interact with Austedo. Before using any of these products while taking Austedo, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Austedo and foods. No foods are known to interact with Austedo. If you have questions about eating certain foods with Austedo, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Austedo: Taking while pregnant

It’s not known if Austedo is safe to take while pregnant. There haven’t been enough human studies of the drug to know for sure.

Animal studies have shown harm to offspring exposed to the drug during pregnancy. However, animal studies don’t always predict what may happen in humans.

If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, talk with your doctor. They can discuss with you the risks and benefits of Austedo treatment.

Austedo and birth control needs

Doctors aren’t sure whether it’s safe to take Austedo during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about your birth control needs with Austedo if you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant. Your doctor can recommend if you should use birth control with this medication.

Austedo: Taking while breastfeeding

It’s not known if Austedo passes into breast milk. So, it isn’t known whether the drug could affect a breastfed child.

If you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, talk with your doctor before starting Austedo. They can suggest healthy ways to feed your child.

Austedo: Precautions

This drug comes with several precautions.

FDA warning: Risk of depression and thoughts or actions of suicide

This drug has a boxed warning, the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Risk of depression and thoughts or actions of suicide. Austedo can increase the risk of depression and thoughts or actions of suicide in people with Huntington’s disease. (Austedo is used to treat chorea due to Huntington’s disease.) This risk is high in people who’ve had depression or attempted suicide in the past.

Due to this risk, doctors may not prescribe Austedo for people with thoughts of suicide or depression that is not well-managed. And doctors will likely watch closely for symptoms of these conditions in people taking the drug.

Other precautions

Tell your doctor about your health history before starting treatment with Austedo. Your doctor may not recommend this medication if you have certain factors affecting your health or specific medical conditions.

These factors and conditions include those listed below.

  • Abnormal heart rhythm. Before taking Austedo, tell your doctor if you have an abnormal heart rhythm. Austedo may cause QT prolongation, which is a type of abnormal heart rhythm. This effect could worsen your heart condition. Your doctor will advise if Austedo is safe for you to take.
  • Liver problems. It isn’t known whether Austedo is safe to use in people with liver problems. For this reason, doctors typically will not prescribe Austedo for people with liver problems. Talk with your doctor about treatment options other than Austedo.
  • Allergic reaction. Your doctor will likely not prescribe Austedo if you’ve had an allergic reaction to it or any of its ingredients. To find out about other treatment options, talk with your doctor.
  • Pregnancy. It’s not known for sure whether Austedo is safe to take during pregnancy. If you’d like to learn more information about taking Austedo while pregnant, view the “Austedo: Taking while pregnant” section above.
  • Breastfeeding. It isn’t known whether Austedo passes into breast milk. If you’d like to learn more information about taking Austedo while breastfeeding, view the “Austedo: Taking while breastfeeding” section above.

To learn more about effects of Austedo that could be harmful, see the “Austedo: Side effects” section above.

Austedo: Overdose

Serious effects can occur if you use more than the recommended dosage of Austedo. Do not use more Austedo than your doctor recommends.  

Symptoms of overdose

Symptoms of an overdose could include:

What to do in case of overdose

Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much of this drug. Also, you can call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use their online tool. However, if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

Austedo: Expiration, storage, and disposal

Here’s some information about Austedo’s expiration date, as well as how to store and dispose of the drug.

  • Expiration. Your pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on Austedo’s bottle. This date is usually 1 year from the date the medication was dispensed to you. Expiration dates help ensure that a medication is effective during a period of time. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that you avoid using expired drugs. If you have an unused medication and it’s past the drug’s expiration date, talk with your pharmacist. They can let you know whether you might still be able to use the medication.
  • Storage. Many factors determine how long a medication remains good to use. These factors include how and where you store the drug. Austedo tablets should be stored at room temperature of about 77°F (25°C). The tablets can be stored at temperatures between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C) temporarily, such as when traveling. Avoid storing the drug in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as bathrooms. The medication should be kept away from light in a tightly sealed container.
  • Disposal. It’s important to safely dispose of Austedo if you no longer need to take it and have unused medication. Doing so helps prevent others, including children and pets, from accidentally taking the drug. It also helps avoid causing harm to the environment. Ask your pharmacist for information about disposing of Austedo. Also, check out this page for several tips on safe medication disposal.

Austedo: Questions for your doctor

If you have questions about Austedo, talk with your doctor. They can advise on whether Austedo could be a good treatment option for you.

Here’s a list of questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • Should I use Austedo in combination with other drugs I’m already taking?
  • Will Austedo cure my condition?
  • How can I manage side effects I may have with Austedo?

Your doctor may also tell you about other treatment options for your condition. Additionally, you may find our selection of videos on tardive dyskinesia helpful.

Disclaimer: Healthgrades 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 another 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.

Medical Reviewer: Heather Bruce, PharmD
Last Review Date: 2022 Mar 20
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.