Another report of a person suffering from disabling long-term side effects after discontinuing the prescription skin patch scopolamine was reported in the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology.
The case study involves a 62-year-old woman who was prescribed a standard 1.5-mg transdermal scopolamine (TDS) patch to prevent motion sickness during a sailing trip. She had used the patches previously without significant adverse effects.
On this occasion, however, the woman wore the scopolamine patch for seven days, and about 24 to 36 hour after removing it developed dizziness, nausea, sweating, fatigue, and drowsiness. The symptoms lasted two days and she recovered without medical intervention.
But a year later, on two separate occasions, she suffered a similar – but much more severe – reaction accompanied by severe fatigue, sweating, inability to stand, and hypotension. Clinical tests, including ECGs, blood tests, and liver and kidney function tests, turned out negative. After several days, the symptoms disappeared.
“Although we are certain that scopolamine was responsible for the symptoms, we are less clear as to the nature of the disorder,” the study’s authors said. “The effects being more severe after a more prolonged use of the TDS patch, the increase in severity each successive time, and the time lag between removing the patch and appearance of symptoms all indicated a withdrawal syndrome for which several mechanisms may be suggested.”
The scopolamine patch, also known by the brand name Transderam Scop, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of motion sickness and for postoperative pain. The patch releases scopolamine into the bloodstream through the skin and is intended for use of no more than three days unless recommended by a physician.
Scopolamine is a anticholinergic medication derived from the belladonna plant, a known toxin that is used in some herbal remedies. Earlier this year, the FDA warned consumers not to use over-the-counter homeopathic teething tablets and gel that contained belladonna after receiving reports of serious adverse events, including seizures and deaths, in children and infants who had been treated with the homeopathic teething products.