Trientine

Trientine is a drug that is used to treat a condition called Wilson’s disease, where too much copper is present in the body.

Overview

This medication is known under the brand name Syprine in the US. Syprine is only available on prescription from a health professional or from your doctor.

Trientine is used in the treatment of a generic condition called Wilson’s disease, a disorder where there is too much copper present in the body. Trientine will not cure Wilson’s disease, although it will help to control and manage its symptoms. The medication works by combining with the excess copper present in the body in order to remove it via the kidneys in the patient’s urine. Trientine also prevents the body from absorbing copper from foodstuffs.

Excessive amounts of copper in the body can cause damage to the liver, brain and other organs, including the eyes. If left untreated, Wilson’s disease will become progressively worse over time until it is eventually fatal. Provided that the disease is detected early and appropriate treatment is commenced, patients can expect to live a relatively normal life. However, any liver and neurological damage that has occurred prior to treatment starting is usually permanent, although there may be a slight improvement.

Conditions treated

  • Wilson’s disease

Type of medicine

  • Capsule

Side effects

The use of Trientine is intended to control the symptoms of Wilson’s disease, however you may experience some unwanted side effects while you are taking it. Before you commence using Trientine, be sure to inform your doctor about any allergic reactions that you have experienced while taking any other form of medication. You should also mention any health problems or bad reactions that you have had as a result of taking non-prescription products, including herbal preparations or vitamin supplements.

Some medications may contain animal products, preservatives or dyes, so you must mention to your doctor if you have any known allergies to any of these.

The side effects that are outlined below are known to occur in patients taking Trientine. However, it is important to note that this list is not all-inclusive or exhaustive. If you notice any other side effects or if you begin to feel unwell while taking this medication, you must consult your doctor without delay.

The primary noted side effects in patients taking Trientine are those of anemia. This is especially likely in children, menstruating women, and pregnant women, because these groups usually need more iron than other patients. If you begin to suffer from any of the following side-effects after you begin taking this medication, you should consult your doctor who may need to carry out some blood tests.

Signs that you may be suffering from anemia include a lack of energy and becoming tired more easily than usual, an accelerated heartbeat or shortness of breath, particularly during exercise. You may develop more headaches than usual, and you could suffer from dizzy spells or feeling lightheaded. You could find concentration problematic, and there may be problems with sleeping. Your skin may appear unusually pale and you could begin to experience cramping in the muscles of your legs.

If you do experience any of the above side-effects when you begin taking Trientine, you may find that they resolve themselves within a few days, as your body acclimatises to the medication. In the meantime, your health professional or pharmacist may be able to suggest ways in which you can prevent or reduce some of the more bothersome side-effects that are affecting you.

You should be reassured that not all patients experience side effects when taking Trientine, but you should always consult your doctor if you have any concerns about any side effects that you do experience.

Some of the side effects that can be caused by Trientine also resemble the symptoms of the disease itself. This is why it is important to allow your body time to adjust to the new medication so that it becomes clearer as to whether it is the drug or the condition that is causing the problems.

Dosage

The recommended dosage of this medicine will vary between patients. Be sure to take your medication as per your doctor’s instructions or refer to the directions on the product pack.

The dosage information that follows is based on the average prescribed dose. The dose that your doctor prescribes for you will depend on the strength of the medication. The quantity of capsules that you are instructed to take each day and the time that you should leave between doses may also vary. If you are prescribed a different dose from that mentioned below, do not change it unless you are expressly instructed to do so by your doctor.

For the treatment of Wilson’s disease in adults and teenagers it is recommended that you take 750 mg to 1.25 g each day as directed by your doctor, divided into two to four smaller doses across the day.

For the treatment of Wilson’s disease in children it is recommended that patients take 500 to 750 mg daily as directed by a doctor, divided into two to four smaller doses across the day.

In the event that you miss a dose, simply double the next dose and take it at the usual time. However, you should not attempt to make up more than one missed dose at a time.

In the case of an overdose, if the affected person develops serious side-effects, especially losing consciousness, or develops severe breathing difficulties, you should call 911. If an overdose occurs but no serious side effects are initially evident, consult your doctor without delay.

Trientine capsules should be taken with water. Swallow each capsule whole; do not open it, chew it or crush it. You should take this medication on an empty stomach at least an hour before eating or two hours following meals. If you are taking any other medication, leave a period of at least one hour after taking it before you take your scheduled dose of Trientine. This allows the dose of Trientine to be fully absorbed by your body.

Drug interactions

Although there are some medicines that should never be used in tandem, in some cases it may be appropriate to use two or more different drugs, even though an interaction may occur. Your doctor may decide to adjust the dose or they might suggest that you take other precautions.

Tell your doctor immediately if you are prescribed Trientine and you are already taking any other form of medication, including vitamin supplements, herbal preparations, or over-the-counter medicines. Some foodstuffs should be avoided when taking certain types of medication, as should consuming alcohol and tobacco as interactions may occur. Discuss with your doctor the possible implications of eating, consuming alcohol, and tobacco products with Trientine before you begin taking it.

At this time there are no listed drugs that should not be used with Trientine.

Warnings

Before you begin taking Trientine, you should tell your doctor if you suffer from iron deficiency or anemia.

Trientine does not provide a cure for Wilson’s disease, although it does help to get rid of the excessive amounts of copper from your body that is associated with this condition. You must therefore continue to take this medication as directed if it is to remain effective. It is likely that sufferers will need to continue taking Trientine for their entire lives - if Wilson’s disease must be treated on an ongoing basis to avoid the patient suffering serious liver damage, which could result in death. For this reason you should not stop taking this medication without first consulting your doctor.

Your doctor may instruct you to follow a low-copper diet and to avoid eating foods that are known to be high in copper, including:

  • chocolate
  • mushrooms
  • liver
  • broccoli
  • molasses
  • cereals enriched with vitamins, including copper
  • shellfish
  • offal
  • nuts

If you are unsure about any aspects of your diet, always consult your doctor.

Take this medication as instructed by your doctor. Do not intentionally take more than you are prescribed or take it more frequently than you have been told to. If you take too much of the medication, the side-effects may be increased.

In addition to discussing any allergies and other drugs that you are taking, it is important that you also mention to your doctor any existing health conditions that you have, before you start taking Trientine.

Storage

Always keep your medication in a sealed, airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator. Do not freeze this medication.

Do not leave this medication where it will be exposed to direct sunlight, heat or moisture.

Keep the medication away from pets and children. In the event that a pet consumes Trientine, seek veterinary advice immediately.

Do not use Trientine that has passed its use-by date or if the packaging appears to be damaged or opened.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on how to dispose of any out-of-date medication. Do not flush the leftover capsules down the toilet, put them down the drain, or throw them out with your garbage where they could be eaten by children or animals.

Summary

Trientine is a drug that is used in the treatment of a condition called Wilson’s disease, a disorder where there is too much copper present in the body. Trientine will not cure Wilson’s disease, although it will help to control and manage it.

People with Wilson’s disease suffer from liver problems, and around half of sufferers also have neurological or psychiatric symptoms. These can begin as mild cognitive deterioration that is sometimes misdiagnosed as early onset dementia. Some people also appear clumsy and poorly co-ordinated, and changes in behaviour have also been observed. These symptoms can be controlled very effectively through the use of Trientine.

Trientine is highly effective and beneficial to patients, however it is important that you communicate fully with your doctor during the course of your treatment. This medication cannot cure Wilson’s disease, but it can be very helpful in managing the condition and in reducing unpleasant side effects. To achieve the best results, you must work closely with your doctor to find the appropriate frequency of use and dose.

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Last Reviewed:
December 25, 2017
Last Updated:
January 01, 2018
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