Clopidogrel

Clopidogrel is an antiplatelet medicine, or blood thinner. It makes your blood flow through your veins more easily.

Clopidogrel comes as tablets and is only available on prescription.

Brand names available in Ireland are:

  • Clodel
  • Grepid
  • Iscover
  • Zyllt
  • Plavix

Uses of clopidogrel

Taking clopidogrel helps prevent blood clots if you have or have had:

  • a heart attack
  • unstable angina
  • a stroke or "mini-stroke" (transient ischaemic attack or TIA)
  • peripheral arterial disease
  • an operation on your heart or blood vessels, such as a coronary stent insertion
  • irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation)

Get emergency help

You might have to get emergency help if you:

  • get a serious allergic reaction
  • have serious side effects
  • take too much

Serious allergic reaction

A serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to clopidogrel is rare

Immediate action required: Call 999 or 112 or go to an emergency department (ED) if:

  • you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
  • you're wheezing
  • you get tightness in your chest or throat
  • you have trouble breathing or talking
  • your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling

Serious side effects

Serious side effects are rare.

Urgent advice: Call your GP straight away if:

  • you're coughing up blood, or there's blood in your pee, poo or vomit
  • your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow - you may also have some bleeding or red pinpoint dots on your skin
  • you feel very tired or have signs of an infection, such as a fever (38 degrees Celsius or above) or sore throat - these can be signs of a blood or bone marrow disorder

If you take too much

Accidentally taking one or 2 extra tablets is unlikely to harm you.

Urgent advice: Phone a GP immediately if:

  • you’ve taken some extra tablets and notice any signs of bleeding

Check if you can take clopidogrel

You can only take clopidogrel if you’re aged 18 and over.

Check with your GP before starting to take clopidogrel if you:

  • have had an allergic reaction any to medicine in the past or any of the ingredients in clopidogrel
  • have a medical condition that causes bleeding such as a stomach ulcer or bleeding within the brain
  • have severe liver disease
  • have had a clot in an artery of your brain (ischaemic stroke) in the last 7 days
  • have had or you are planning to have surgery
  • are trying to get pregnant, already pregnant or breastfeeding 

Pregnant or breastfeeding

Do not take clopidogrel if you’re pregnant, think you may be pregnant, trying for a baby or are breastfeeding.

Ask your GP or pharmacist for advice.

When you start taking clopidogrel

You may not notice any difference in how you feel after you start taking clopidogrel. This does not mean the medicine is not working.

Carry on taking clopidogrel as your GP has told you, even if you feel well. You'll still be getting the benefits.

You may find that you bleed more easily than normal when taking clopidogrel. You may have nosebleeds, heavier periods, bleeding gums or bruising.

Urgent advice: Phone a GP immediately if:

  • you are worried about any bleeding

Alcohol

Do not drink more than the recommended amount of alcohol per week while taking clopidogrel.

This is 17 units for men and 11 units for women while taking

Clopidogrel can irritate your stomach if you drink alcohol. 

How and when to take it

Take clopidogrel once a day, at the same time each day.

You can take it with or without food.

Check with your GP about how long you should take clopidogrel for.

Don't

  • do not stop taking clopidogrel without talking to your GP first.

  • do not drink grapefruit juice while you are taking clopidogrel. Grapefruit juice may increase the blood-thinning effect of your medicine.

If you forget to take it 

Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.

If you forget to take clopidogrel, take it as soon as you remember.

If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose and continue as normal.

Side effects

Talk to your GP, a pharmacist or a nurse if side effects bother you or do not go away.

Side effects include:

  • bleeding more easily than normal - nosebleeds, bruising more easily or bleeding that takes longer to stop
  • diarrhoea
  • stomach pain
  • indigestion or heartburn

Taking clopidogrel with other medicines

Some medicines interfere with the way clopidogrel works. Before you start taking clopidogrel, check with your GP, a pharmacist or nurse if you’re on any other medicines or supplements. 

Everyday painkillers

Do not take aspirin for pain relief (300mg tablets) or ibuprofen while you're taking clopidogrel, unless your GP has said it's OK. They increase the chance of bleeding.

You can take paracetamol with clopidogrel.

Indigestion medicines

Do not take indigestion remedies called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as omeprazole and esomeprazole as they may reduce the effect of clopidogrel.

Your GP can prescribe you a different PPI (such as lansoprazole), if you have indigestion and need a medicine to protect your stomach.

You can take other indigestion remedies such as antacids at the same time as clopidogrel.

Antidepressants

Some medicines used to treat depression called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can increase the chance of bleeding.

Talk to a GP before starting clopidogrel if you are taking an antidepressant.

Taking clopidogrel before surgery or dental treatment

Do not stop taking clopidogrel without first talking to your GP or dentist.

They'll tell you if you need to stop taking clopidgrel before a procedure.

Having a vaccination while taking clopidogrel

You can have vaccinations while taking clopidogrel.

Tell the GP or nurse giving you the vaccine that you're taking a blood thinner.

Finding your patient information leaflet online

Your patient information leaflet (PIL) is the leaflet that comes in the package of your medicine. 

Information:

To find your PIL online, visit the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) website

  1. In the ‘Find a medicine’ search box, enter the brand name of your medicine. A list of matching medicines appears.
  2. To the right of your medicine, select ‘PIL’. A PDF of the PIL opens in a new window. 

You can also:

  1. Select the brand name of your medicine.
  2. Scroll down to the Documents section.
  3. From the Package Leaflet line, select PDF version. A PDF of the PIL opens in a new window. 

If your PIL is not on the HPRA website, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) website opens in a new window when you select ‘PIL’.

You can find your PIL on the EMA website.

Finding your PIL on the EMA website

If your PIL is not on the HPRA website, you will be sent to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) website.

To find your PIL on the EMA website:

  1. In the Medicines search box, enter the brand name of your medicine and the word ‘epar’. For example: ‘Zoely epar’. A list of matching medicines appears.
  2. Select the ‘Human medicine European public assessment report (EPAR)’ for your medicine
  3. From the table of contents, select Product information.
  4. Select the EPAR – Product Information link for your medicine. A PDF opens in a new window. The PIL information is in Annex III of the PDF under ‘labelling and package leaflet’

This content was fact checked by a pharmacist, a GP, the National Medication Safety Programme (Safermeds) and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 24 September 2021
Next review due: 24 September 2024

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