Chlorphenamine is often combined with phenylpropanolamine to form an allergy medication with both antihistamine and decongestant properties, though phenylpropanolamine is no longer available in the US after studies showed it increased the risk of stroke in young women. Chlorphenamine remains available with no such risk.
Chlorphenamine may be combined with the opioidhydrocodone. Chlorphenamine/dihydrocodeine immediate-release syrups are also marketed. The antihistamine is helpful in cases where allergy or common cold is the reason for the cough; it is also a potentiator of opioids, allowing enhanced suppression of cough, analgesia, and other effects from a given quantity of the drug by itself. In various places in the world, cough and cold preparations containing codeine and chlorphenamine are available.
The adverse effects include drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, constipation, anxiety, nausea, blurred vision, restlessness, decreased coordination, dry mouth, shallow breathing, hallucinations, irritability, problems with memory or concentration, tinnitus and trouble urinating.
A large study on people 65 years old or older, linked the development of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia to the use of chlorphenamine and other first-generation antihistamines, due to their anticholinergic properties.
A study found that dexchlorphenamine had Ki values for the human cloned H1 receptor of 2.67 to 4.81 nM while levchlorphenamine had Ki values of 211 to 361 nM for this receptor, indicating that dexchlorphenamine is the active enantiomer. Another study found that dexchlorphenamine had a Ki value of 20 to 30 µM for the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor using rat brain tissue while levchlorphenamine had a Ki value of 40 to 50 µM for this receptor, indicating that both enantiomers have very low affinity for it.
The elimination half-life of chlorphenamine has variously ranged between 13.9 and 43.4 hours in adults following a single dose in clinical studies.
There are several patented methods for the synthesis of chlorphenamine. In one example, 4-chlorophenylacetonitrile is reacted with 2-chloropyridine in the presence of sodium amide to form 4-chlorophenyl(2-pyridyl)acetonitrile. Alkylating this with 2-dimethylaminoethylchloride in the presence of sodium amide gives γ-(4-chlorphenyl)-γ-cyano-N,N-dimethyl-2-pyridinepropanamine, the hydrolysis and decarboxylation of which lead to chlorphenamine.
A second method starts from pyridine, which undergoes alkylation by 4-chlorophenylacetonitrile, giving 2-(4-chlorobenzyl)pyridine. Alkylating this with 2-dimethylaminoethylchloride in the presence of sodium amide gives chlorphenamine.
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