Is OTC Meclizine the same as prescription Meclizine?

Is OTC Meclizine the same as prescription Meclizine?

Yes, over-the-counter Meclizine is the same as prescription Meclizine if we look at the basic chemical properties of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), Meclizine. However, the difference lies in the concentration of the API present in the two forms of the medication (1). 

This is why the one which contains a lesser concentration of Meclizine is available over the counter, and the one with a higher concentration should be taken only if prescribed by a healthcare professional.  

Meclizine is an antihistamine and it is one of the first medications that come to mind when treating motion sickness and dizziness. People with motion sickness can easily do well on the OTC Meclizine, however, some may require a stronger dose.

This is why it’s important to seek medical advice if you suffer from conditions like vertigo, or if you are planning your next trip and your motion sickness concerns you. 

Make sure you ensure the safe and effective use of Meclizine. To do so, it is important to stick to the recommended dosage strength and frequency of drug use.

It is also important to check the expiry date before taking Meclizine or any other medication to ensure that it is potent enough to help your symptoms. 

What are the basic differences between OTC and prescription Meclizine?

Although the API is the same, OTC Meclizine can differ from prescription Meclizine in a few ways. As we have discussed earlier, the OTC version of Meclizine is available without a doctor’s prescription. Sold under various brand names, it can be purchased from pharmacies, drugstores and even online retailers.

The OTC dosage strength is 25 mg per tablet and it is labeled for temporary relief of symptoms. It is available in various dosage forms including tablets, capsules, and chewable tablets, and is typically taken 30 minutes to an hour before travelling or exposure to anything that triggers the symptoms.

Prescription Meclizine, on the other hand, is only available on prescription and should be taken as directed by a doctor. The prescription form of Meclizine may have varying strengths including 12.5 mg, 25 mg, and 50 mg and is prescribed depending on the individual’s condition.

Prescription Meclizine is typically taken 1-2 hours before travel or exposure to a trigger. The dosage for adults can be 25mg-100mg taken once a day.

Prescription Meclizine is usually more expensive than OTC Meclizine, which makes it less common among people who can’t afford it. However, OTC Meclizine can not be used for underlying health conditions.

Here’s a table to sum up the basic differences between OTC and prescription Meclizine

PropertiesOTC MeclizinePrescription Meclizine
Dosage Strength12.5mg, 25 mg25mg, 50mg, 100mg
Duration30 mins to 1hr before travelling1hr-2hr before travelling
Cost EffectiveMore AffordableExpensive
UseUsed for motion sickness onlyPrescribed for more severe conditions 

Are OTC and Prescription Meclizine associated with similar side effects?

Yes, OTC and Prescription Meclizine are associated with similar side effects because the occurrence of adverse events depends on the pharmacological properties of the drug, which are exactly the same here since the active drug is the same. 

However, the intensity of the side effect can vary because of the difference in dosage strengths. Common side effects associated with Meclizine include (2):

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Blurred Vision
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Nausea

Less common side effects of Meclizine include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Weight Gain
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Liver Problems
  • Kidney Problems
  • Blood Disorders
  • Seizures

These side effects can vary from person to person. Although Meclizine is a generally well-tolerated medication, some people may not respond well to it. In case you experience any of the above-mentioned side effects, please reach out to your healthcare provider.

Final words

To sum up, OTC and Prescription Meclizine are not so different from one another. You just need to understand that one is used for mild symptoms and the other one is used for more complex conditions. 

If you are taking OTC Meclizine and you don’t find it effective enough, please talk to your prescribing physician. Your doctor will properly diagnose your condition and will recommend the best possible treatment regimen to help restore your health.

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Meclizine Dosage (, 2023)


Meclizine Oral Route (Mayo Clinic, 2023)