Wakix (Pitolisant) - Oral

What Is Wakix?

Wakix (pitolisant) is an oral prescription medication used to treat narcolepsy—a condition that involves excessive daytime sleepiness. Wakix belongs to a group of drugs called histamine-3 inverse agonists. It works by affecting the levels of certain brain chemicals that control sleep and wakefulness.

Wakix is available in tablet form.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Pitolisant

Brand Name: Wakix

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Oral

Therapeutic Classification: Central nervous system agent

Available Generically: No

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Pitolisant

Dosage Form: Tablet

What Is Wakix Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Wakix to treat certain symptoms of narcolepsy, including excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy.

Cataplexy describes an episode of temporary muscle weakness triggered by a strong emotional response, such as laughter or anger. During an attack, people with cataplexy may notice their head falls forward, their jaw hangs open, or their knees buckle, causing them to fall. Muscle tone usually resolves within 2 minutes.

Wakix (Pitolisant) Drug Information - Illustration by Zoe Hansen

Verywell / Zoe Hansen

How to Take Wakix 

Wakix comes as an oral tablet that you take once daily in the morning, as soon as you wake up. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on how many tablets to take. Your healthcare provider may slowly increase your dose of Wakix over several weeks to achieve the best response.


Store Wakix at room temperature (between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit). Keep Wakix—and all your medicines—in a safe location, up high and out of the reach of children.

How Long Does Wakix Take to Work?

Your healthcare provider will slowly increase your dose over several weeks. It may take up to eight weeks to see the full effects.

What Are the Side Effects of Wakix?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects 

Some people may experience side effects while taking Wakix. Let your healthcare provider know about any side effects that bother you or don’t go away. Common side effects include:

  • Anxiety 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Nausea 
  • Signs of the common cold 
  • Trouble sleeping 

Severe Side Effects

Rarely, Wakix may cause serious side effects. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any severe reactions. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or think you are having a medical emergency.

Heart Rhythm Problems (Arrhythmias) 

Wakix can affect the electrical activity in your heart and rarely lead to serious heart rhythm problems. Let your healthcare provider know if you:

  • Develop heart palpitations 
  • Feel lightheaded 
  • Lose consciousness (pass out)

Allergic Reactions

Signs of an allergic reaction include: 

  • Swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Tightness in the chest or throat. 

Report Side Effects

Wakix may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Wakix Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form (tablets):
    • For cataplexy or excessive daytime sleepiness caused by narcolepsy:
      • Adults—At first, 8.9 milligrams (mg) (two tablets of 4.45 mg) once a day on Week 1. Your doctor may increase your dose to 17.8 mg (one tablet of 17.8 mg) once a day on Week 2. Then, your doctor may increase your dose to 35.6 mg (two tablets of 17.8 mg) once a day on Week 3. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed and tolerated. However, the dose is usually not more than 35.6 mg per day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Missed Dose

If you forget to take your dose of Wakix, skip your dose for that day. Take your next dose the following morning when you wake up. Do not double up or take extra doses.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Wakix?

An overdose of Wakix may cause: 

  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain 

It is important only to take your prescribed dose of Wakix. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you are unsure how much to take.

What Happens If I Overdose on Wakix?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Wakix, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Wakix, call 911 immediately.


Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

This medicine does not take the place of getting enough sleep. It should not be used for occasional sleepiness that has not been diagnosed as narcolepsy. Ask your doctor for advice about good sleep habits.

Contact your doctor right away if you have any changes to your heart rhythm. You might feel dizzy or faint, or you might have a fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat. Make sure your doctor knows if you or anyone in your family has ever had a heart rhythm problem such as QT prolongation.

Birth control pills may not work while you are using pitolisant. To keep from getting pregnant, use another form of birth control during treatment and for at least 21 days after your last dose. Other forms of birth control include condoms, diaphragms, or contraceptive foams or jellies.

It is important to tell your doctor if you become pregnant. Your doctor may want you to join a pregnancy exposure registry for patients taking this medicine.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Wakix? 

Certain conditions increase your risk of developing complications from Wakix. Don’t take Wakix if you:

  • Are allergic to pitolisant or any other ingredient in Wakix
  • Have severe liver problems

What Other Medications Interact With Wakix?

Many drugs can interact with Wakix. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know about all the medicines you take—even over-the-counter, nonprescription products. 

Wakix can decrease the effectiveness of hormonal birth control, including birth control pills. You must use a non-hormonal form of birth control (e.g., condoms, an IUD, a diaphragm with contraceptive jelly) while taking Wakix and for 21 days after stopping Wakix.

Some drugs can increase Wakix levels. Your healthcare provider may reduce your dose of Wakix if you take:

Certain medicines increase your risk of developing heart rhythm problems from Wakix. Let your healthcare provider know if you take:

  • Betapace (sotalol) 
  • Chlorpromazine 
  • Geodon (ziprasidone) 
  • Methadone 
  • Multaq (dronedarone) 
  • Norpace (disopyramide) 
  • Pacerone (amiodarone) 
  • Quinidine 
  • Thioridazine 
  • Tikosyn (dofetilide)

Many drugs can decrease how well Wakix works, including:

This is not a complete list of all the drugs that may interact with Wakix. Always keep an up-to-date list of all the medicines you take, and let your healthcare provider and pharmacist know any time there are changes. 

What Medications Are Similar?

Wakix belongs to a group of medications called histamine-3 inverse agonists. It is the only medication used to treat narcolepsy in this group. 

Most narcolepsy medicines treat either excessive daytime sleepiness or cataplexy. Because many patients with narcolepsy experience both of these symptoms, they often need to take multiple medications. Wakix is unique because it treats both daytime sleepiness and cataplexy, so you may only need to take one drug. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Wakix used for?

    Wakix is used to treat excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy (sudden muscle weakness) caused by narcolepsy.

  • How does Wakix work?

    Wakix belongs to a group of drugs called histamine-3 inverse agonists. Wakix works by changing the levels of certain brain chemicals that affect sleep and wakefulness.

  • How long does it take for Wakix to work?

    After starting Wakix, it can take up to eight weeks to see the full effects.

  • What are the side effects of Wakix?

    The most common side effects of Wakix include anxiety, headache, muscle pain, nausea, signs of the common cold, and trouble sleeping.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Wakix?

If you’re living with the symptoms of narcolepsy, just getting through the day can be a challenge. An afternoon nap can help some people improve their daytime sleepiness, but it’s not enough for most people. Fortunately, effective medications, including Wakix, are available to help relieve these symptoms. 

Because Wakix may interact with many different drugs, it’s important to let your healthcare provider know about all your medicines, even over-the-counter, nonprescription products. Your provider may need to adjust your dose of Wakix to ensure you receive safe and effective treatment.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. MedlinePlus. Pitolisant.

  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. DailyMed. Wakix- pitolisant hydrochloride tablet, film coated.