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Cost, side effects, dosage, how it works, and more

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Contrave can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Contrave. These lists do not include all possible side effects.

For more information about the possible side effects of Contrave, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to manage any side effects that may be concerning or bothersome.

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 Contrave, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

Mild side effects* of Contrave can include:

* This is a partial list of mild side effects from Contrave. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or view Contrave’s medication guide.
† For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect details” section below.

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Contrave aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

* Many people with high blood pressure don’t experience any symptoms.
† For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect details” section below.
Contrave has a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the FDA.

Side effect details

Here’s some detail on certain side effects this drug may cause.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Contrave may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This drug has a boxed warning from the FDA for this side effect. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the FDA.

In people who have depression or other mental health conditions, antidepressants such as bupropion can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Bupropion is one of the active ingredients in Contrave.

Contrave can increase this risk in children, adolescents, and young adults (up to age 24 years). (Older adults who take Contrave don’t seem to have an increased risk of this side effect.) Because of the seriousness of this side effect, Contrave is not approved for use in children.

While taking Contrave, you should pay close attention to any unusual changes in your mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. Also ask loved ones, caregivers you may have, and healthcare professionals you may see to watch for such changes.

If you have any symptoms of worsening depression or suicidal thoughts, contact your doctor right away.

Liver damage or hepatitis

Contrave contains the generic drug naltrexone. In clinical trials, naltrexone has been reported to cause hepatitis and other liver problems.

Symptoms of liver problems include abdominal (belly) pain lasting more than a few days, dark urine, yellowing of the whites of the eyes, and tiredness. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away.

If you already have liver problems, your doctor will prescribe you a lower dose of Contrave. If you have serious liver problems, your doctor may have you stop taking Contrave.

Hot flashes

In clinical trials, some people taking Contrave reported having hot flashes. A hot flash, also called a hot flush, is a sudden feeling of heat. This feeling can occur either all over the body or in the upper part only. Additionally, it can cause flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color) on the chest, arms, and back.

You can help ease the symptoms of a hot flash by:

  • dressing in layers that you can remove when you feel hot
  • avoiding alcohol
  • quitting smoking
  • taking cool showers
  • using a portable fan as needed

For additional tips that may help with hot flashes, see this article.

If you have hot flashes from taking Contrave that are bothersome, tell your doctor. They may have additional suggestions for treating this side effect.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Contrave.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • trouble breathing

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Contrave, as the reaction could become severe. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

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