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Drugs reference index «Ucephan»


Generic Name: sodium benzoate and sodium phenylacetate (Oral route)

SOE-dee-um BEN-zoe-ate, SOE-dee-um fen-il-AS-e-tate

Commonly used brand name(s):

In the U.S.

  • Ucephan

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Solution

Therapeutic Class: Hyperammonemia Agent

Uses For Ucephan

Sodium benzoate and sodium phenylacetate combination is used to treat a condition caused by too much ammonia in the blood (hyperammonemia). This medicine works by causing less ammonia to be produced by the body.

Ammonia is formed from the breakdown of protein in the body. If the ammonia cannot be removed by the body, then a buildup may cause serious unwanted effects.

Sodium benzoate and sodium phenylacetate combination is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before Using Ucephan

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.


This medicine has been tested in children and, in effective doses, has not been shown to cause different side effects or problems than it does in adults.


Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing the use of sodium benzoate and sodium phenylacetate in the elderly with use in other age groups.

Interactions with Medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other Medical Problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Cancer—Use of sodium benzoate and sodium phenylacetate may increase your chance of side effects
  • Edema (swelling) or
  • Heart disease—Increased retention of water may make these conditions worse
  • Kidney disease or
  • Liver disease—May increase the amount of medicine in your body

Proper Use of Ucephan

It is important that you follow any special instructions from your doctor, such as following a low protein diet. If you have any questions about this, check with your doctor.


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 injection dosage form (solution):
    • Treatment of too much ammonia in the blood:
      • Adults and children—The dose is based on body weight and must be determined by the doctor.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.


Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Precautions While Using Ucephan

Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly.

Ucephan Side Effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Stop taking this medicine and get emergency help immediately if any of the following effects occur:

More common
  • Confusion
  • convulsions
  • decreased urine
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • increase in frequency of seizures
  • increased thirst
  • irregular heartbeat
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • muscle pain or cramps
  • nausea
  • numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or lips
  • problems with movement, walking or speech
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of face
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting
  • yellow eyes or skin
Less common
  • Blood in stools
  • blood in urine
  • bruising
  • change in consciousness
  • coughing or vomiting blood
  • difficulty in breathing
  • drowsiness
  • loss of consciousness
  • mental changes
  • muscle cramps in hands, arms, feet, legs, or face
  • muscle tremors
  • persistent bleeding or oozing from puncture sites, mouth, or nose
  • rapid, deep breathing
  • rash
  • restlessness
  • shortness of breath
  • stomach cramps
  • tightness in chest
  • tremor
  • troubled breathing
  • wheezing
Frequency unknown
  • Abnormally slow deep breathing
  • blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • blurred vision
  • bulging soft spot on head of an infant
  • change in ability to see colors, especially blue or yellow
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • dizziness or fainting
  • injection site hemorrhage
  • insomnia
  • irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
  • lightheadedness
  • severe headache
  • shakiness
  • sleepiness
  • slow heartbeat
  • slow to respond
  • slurred speech
  • unconsciousness
Symptoms of overdose
  • Agitation
  • back pain
  • blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • blurred vision
  • bulging soft spot on head of an infant
  • change in ability to see colors, especially blue or yellow
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • chills
  • cold, clammy, pale skin
  • coma
  • confusion
  • continuing nausea or vomiting
  • cough
  • deep or fast breathing with dizziness
  • difficult or troubled breathing
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position suddenly
  • drowsiness
  • fainting
  • fast heartbeat
  • fever
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • hallucinations
  • headache
  • high blood pressure
  • insomnia
  • irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
  • irregular heartbeats
  • irritability
  • lightheadedness
  • loss of appetite
  • mood or mental changes
  • muscle twitching
  • no blood pressure
  • not alert
  • numbness to feet, hands and around mouth
  • rapid, shallow breathing
  • restlessness
  • seizures
  • slow heart rate
  • stiff neck
  • sweating
  • swelling of face
  • swelling of feet or lower legs
  • thickening of bronchial secretions
  • trouble with coordination
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • yellow eyes or skin

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
  • Changes in skin color
  • cold hands and feet
  • confusion or excitement
  • cough or hoarseness;
  • dry mouth;
  • fever or chills
  • flushed, dry skin;
  • fruit-like breath odor
  • increased hunger
  • increased thirst
  • increased urination
  • lower back or side pain
  • mental depression or anxiety
  • nightmares or unusually vivid dreams
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pain, redness, or swelling in arm or leg
  • skin disorders
  • sweating
  • unexplained weight loss
Less common
  • Bladder pain
  • bleeding, blistering, burning, coldness, discoloration of skin, feeling of pressure, hives, infection; inflammation, itching, lumps, numbness, pain, rash, redness, scarring, soreness, stinging, swelling, tenderness, tingling, ulceration, or warmth at site
  • decrease in urine-concentrating ability
  • diarrhea
  • difficult, burning, or painful urination
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • hyperventilation
  • nervousness
  • pale skin
  • shaking
  • troubled breathing with exertion
  • trouble sleeping
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
Frequency unknown
  • Blister
  • full or bloated feeling or pressure in the stomach
  • itching skin
  • rash with flat lesions or small raised lesions on the skin
  • swelling of abdominal or stomach area
  • uncontrolled jerking movement

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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