Clopidogrel

About clopidogrel

Clopidogrel is an antiplatelet medicine. It prevents platelets (a type of blood cell) from sticking together and forming a dangerous blood clot.

Taking clopidogrel helps prevent blood clots if you have an increased risk of having them.

Your risk is higher if you have or have had:

Clopidogrel comes as tablets and is only available on prescription.

Key facts

Who can and cannot take clopidogrel

Clopidogrel can be taken by adults aged 18 and over.

Clopidogrel is not suitable for some people. To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you:

How and when to take clopidogrel

Dosage

You'll usually take clopidogrel once a day, at the same time each day.

You can take clopidogrel with or without food.

The usual dose is 75mg a day. Occasionally you may be prescribed a one-off higher dose, such as 300mg or 600mg.

What if I forget to take it?

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 take your next dose at the usual time.

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

If you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.

What if I take too much?

Taking 1 or 2 extra tablets is unlikely to harm you.

But the amount of clopidogrel that can lead to overdose is different from person to person.

Contact your doctor if you have taken some extra tablets and notice any signs of bleeding.

Side effects

Common side effects

Like all medicines, clopidogrel can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.

These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or do not go away:

Serious side effects

Serious side effects are rare and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people.

Call a doctor as soon as possible if:

Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases, clopidogrel can cause a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

These are not all the side effects of clopidogrel. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.

How to cope with side effects of clopidogrel

What to do about:

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Clopidogrel and pregnancy

Clopidogrel is not normally recommended in pregnancy, however it can be taken if needed. It is not thought to be harmful to your baby, although evidence is limited.

Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking clopidogrel. For some conditions, continuing clopidogrel is essential. Do not stop taking clopidogrel unless you have been advised to do so by your doctor.

There may be other treatments that are more suitable for you in pregnancy. Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to advise you.

Clopidogrel and breastfeeding

Only take clopidogrel while breastfeeding if your doctor advises you to.

It is not known how much clopidogrel gets into breast milk, but it's likely to be a small amount.

If your doctor says it's OK for you to keep taking clopidogrel, then watch your baby for any possible side effects, such as bruising or bleeding easily. However, it's unlikely that clopidogrel will cause any side effects in your baby.

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, midwife, or health visitor if you have any concerns about your baby while you're breastfeeding.

Cautions with other medicines

Taking clopidogrel with everyday painkillers

Some medicines affect the way clopidogrel works.

Tell your doctor if you're taking any of these medicines before you start taking clopidogrel:

Your doctor may prescribe daily low-dose aspirin (75mg tablets) to take together with clopidogrel. Or they may prescribe clopidogrel instead of daily low-dose aspirin if you have problems with aspirin.

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

You can take paracetamol together with clopidogrel.

Taking clopidogrel with indigestion medicines

Indigestion remedies called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as omeprazole and esomeprazole, may reduce the effect of clopidogrel.

If you have indigestion and need a medicine to protect your stomach, your doctor can prescribe you a different PPI, such as lansoprazole.

You can take other indigestion remedies such as antacids at the same time as clopidogrel. Your pharmacist will be able to recommend a suitable indigestion remedy for you.

Mixing clopidogrel with herbal remedies and supplements

There might be a problem with taking some herbal remedies and supplements with clopidogrel, especially ones that can affect your blood (for example, ginkgo).

St John's wort (used for depression) can increase the levels of clopidogrel in your blood. This can increase your risk of bleeding.

Common questions about clopidogrel

How does clopidogrel work? How long does it take to work? When will I feel better? How long will I take it for? Is it safe to take it for a long time? What will happen if I stop taking it? Are there any other similar medicines? How does clopidogrel compare with other antiplatelet medicines like ticagrelor? Can I drink alcohol with it? Is there any food or drink I need to avoid? Will I need to stop clopidogrel before surgery or dental treatment? Can I have vaccinations? Will it affect my contraception? Will it affect my fertility? Will it affect my sex life? Can I drive or ride a bike? Can lifestyle changes help?