Oxybutynin vs Detrol

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For patients with overactive bladder (OAB) or other types of urinary disorders, certain drugs that affect the activity of neurotransmitters in the bladder can help in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life. Oxybutynin and Detrol are two such drugs that are often prescribed for these conditions. They each impact different receptors within the detrusor muscles but both have effects aimed at decreasing involuntary contractions and subsequently relieving symptoms associated with an overactive bladder. Oxybutynin is classified as a muscarinic antagonist, primarily affecting levels of acetylcholine at muscarinic receptors to reduce muscle spasms in the bladder. Detrol, on the other hand, is also a type of antimuscarinic medication specifically targeting M2 and M3 subtypes of muscarinic receptors which play crucial roles in detrusor contraction during urine storage and voiding phases.

What is Oxybutynin?

Oxybutynin (the generic name for Ditropan) is an anticholinergic medication first approved by the FDA in 1975. It works by relaxing the muscles of the bladder, increasing its capacity and reducing the urge to urinate. Oxybutynin is typically prescribed for overactive bladder symptoms such as frequent or urgent urination, urinary incontinence, and nighttime urination (nocturia). Similarly, Detrol (generic name Tolterodine) is another type of anticholinergic drug used for treating symptoms of an overactive bladder. Approved by the FDA in 1998, it also relaxes the bladder muscles but has a more selective action on receptors within the urinary tract thus resulting in fewer side effects outside this area compared to Oxybutynin. Both these medications are effective but your healthcare provider would consider factors like age, side effect profile and other health conditions before deciding which one fits you best.

What conditions is Oxybutynin approved to treat?

Oxybutynin is approved for the treatment of several related conditions:

  • Overactive bladder and urinary incontinence
  • Bladder instability associated with voiding in patients with uninhibited neurogenic or reflex neurogenic bladder (i.e., urgency, frequency, urinary leakage, urge incontinence, dysuria)
  • Pediatric nocturnal enuresis (in combination with other treatments)

How does Oxybutynin help with these illnesses?

Oxybutynin aids in managing overactive bladder by moderating the muscle contractions within the bladder wall. It accomplishes this by inhibiting acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which is significant to the contraction of smooth muscles, from binding to its receptors on these muscles. Acetylcholine plays an important role in various bodily functions such as heart rate, digestion, and salivation among others. In individuals with an overactive bladder, there are excessive contractions leading to frequent urges for urination and sometimes involuntary leakage. Therefore, by restricting acetylcholine's effects via oxybutynin use, it can reduce these abnormal contractions and help those affected manage their condition more effectively.

What is Detrol?

Detrol, also known as tolterodine, is a drug that works by blocking the action of acetylcholine on muscarinic receptors in smooth muscle tissue such as the bladder. This antimuscarinic property makes Detrol an effective treatment for urinary incontinence and overactive bladder syndrome. Tolterodine was first approved by the FDA in 1998.

Unlike oxybutynin, another drug used to treat these conditions, Detrol does not have significant anticholinergic side effects such as dry mouth and constipation thanks to its selectivity for bladder muscarinic receptors. Its lack of systemic anticholinergic activity means it's less likely than oxybutynin to cause cognitive impairment or confusion (common side effects associated with non-selective antimuscarinics). The selective action on urinary tract could make Detrol a better choice especially for elderly patients who are more susceptible to these adverse events.

What conditions is Detrol approved to treat?

Detrol, also known by its generic name tolterodine, is approved for the treatment of:

  • Overactive bladder with symptoms of urge urinary incontinence
  • Urgency and frequency in both adults and children over the age of 12 years.

Its main function is to decrease muscle spasms of the bladder and urinary tract.

How does Detrol help with these illnesses?

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays critical roles in many functions of the body, including muscle movement and contraction, heart rate regulation, memory processing, and mood. It also acts as a messenger molecule in the bladder to signal muscles to contract during urination. High levels of acetylcholine have been implicated with overactive bladder symptoms. Detrol works by blocking the action of acetylcholine on muscarinic receptors found mainly in smooth muscle tissues such as those lining the urinary tract. This reduces involuntary contractions and allows for better voluntary control over urination, thereby alleviating some symptoms of an overactive bladder. Its effects are similar but not identical to those of Oxybutynin - another antimuscarinic medication used for this purpose. As it has fewer side effects compared to Oxybutynin like dry mouth or constipation, Detrol may be preferred when patients do not respond well or tolerate other typical antimuscarinic drugs.

How effective are both Oxybutynin and Detrol?

Both oxybutynin and tolterodine (Detrol) have established histories of success in treating patients with overactive bladder, and they were initially approved by the FDA only a few years apart. Since they act on different types of muscarinic receptors, they may be prescribed under different circumstances. The effectiveness of oxybutynin and tolterodine in alleviating symptoms of overactive bladder was directly studied in several double-blind clinical trials; the two drugs exhibited similar efficacy in managing urinary frequency, urgency, nocturia as well as promising safety profiles. In these studies, none of the metrics used to measure efficacy in treating overactive bladder differed between patients receiving oxybutynin and those receiving tolterodine.

A review published in 2004 demonstrated that oxybutynin is effective at reducing symptoms starting from the first week of treatment. It has a favorable side effect profile when compared to many other antimuscarinic agents due to its selective action on M3 receptors present on detrusor muscle cells within the urinary bladder wall. Oxybutynin's widespread use can be attributed largely because it was among one of first anticholinergic medicines developed for this purpose.

Tolterodine (Detrol), according to a meta-analysis conducted in 2016 seems more effective than placebo at treating symptoms associated with an overactive bladder, showing similar efficacy to other common medications used for this condition including oxybutnin. However unlike bupropion mentioned above Tolterodine is considered as a first line agent along with other medicines like solifenacin or mirabegron rather than third- or fourth-line treatment option usually reserved for medications like botox injections into detrusor muscles . Although data confirming its efficacy as standalone treatments are robust there is still need for comparing long term outcomes between various therapeutic options available today.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Oxybutynin typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Oxybutynin for adults typically range from 5-20 mg/day, but research has shown that a dose of 10 mg/day is usually sufficient to manage symptoms of overactive bladder in most individuals. For elderly patients or those with renal or hepatic impairment, it's recommended to start at the lower end of this spectrum (around 2.5 - 5mg per day). Dosage can be increased incrementally after a few weeks if there are no improvements seen, however care should be taken not to exceed the maximum dosage limit which is set at 20 mg/day.

At what dose is Detrol typically prescribed?

Detrol treatment is typically initiated at a dosage of 2 mg twice daily. The dose can then be increased to 4 mg/day, divided into two doses, spaced approximately 12 hours apart. However, for patients with reduced kidney or liver function, it's recommended to start at the lower dose of 1 mg twice per day. Maximum tolerable dose is usually considered as 4mg/day divided into two doses and this may be tried if there isn't a satisfactory response to treatment at the initial dosages after several weeks. It's important that any up-titration in dosage should always be supervised by your healthcare provider.

What are the most common side effects for Oxybutynin?

Common side effects of Oxybutynin can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness, drowsiness or blurred vision
  • Constipation and stomach pain
  • Heat stroke due to decreased sweating
  • Generalized weakness (asthenia)
  • Nervousness, confusion or hallucinations in rare cases
  • Insomnia or abnormal dreams
  • Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and dyspepsia
  • Allergic reactions including rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)

Always consult with a healthcare provider for any unusual or severe symptoms.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Oxybutynin?

While Oxybutynin is generally well-tolerated, in rare cases it can cause serious side effects which may include:

  • Allergic reactions like hives, difficulty breathing or swallowing, and swelling of the face or throat.
  • Severe skin reaction that causes a rash that spreads and causes blistering. This can occur along with fever and general ill feeling.
  • Vision problems such as blurred vision, eye pain or redness, seeing halos around lights
  • Heart rate irregularities: an unusually fast heart rate, pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest;
  • Low levels of sodium leading to headache, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting loss of coordination;
  • Neurological issues: hallucinations (seeing things), confusion and drowsiness are also possible adverse effects. In extreme rare cases this might progress to muscle stiffness associated with high fever (neuroleptic malignant syndrome)

If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Oxybutynin seek immediate medical attention.

What are the most common side effects for Detrol?

When considering the use of Detrol, it is important to be aware of potential side effects:

  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Blurred vision
  • Stomach upset including nausea and constipation
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Drowsiness or fatigue, which may lead to sleep problems (insomnia)
  • A rash could potentially develop as a reaction to the medication.

Remember that all medications can cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only minor ones. It's always key to discuss these potential risks with your healthcare professional before starting any new medication regimen.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Detrol?

Detrol, like any medication, has the potential of causing side effects. While most are mild and manageable, some could be serious. If you start experiencing these symptoms after taking Detrol:

  • Severe skin reaction: rashes, itching or hives
  • Swelling in your face or throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't real)
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Severe stomach pain with nausea and vomiting

These may suggest an allergic reaction to the drug, complications related to heart rhythm abnormalities, urinary retention issues, severe gastroenteric reactions among other concerns which necessitate immediate medical attention. Immediately cease use of Detrol if you experience any of these side effects and contact your healthcare provider.

Contraindications for Oxybutynin and Detrol?

Both Oxybutynin and Detrol, like most medications for overactive bladder, may worsen symptoms in some people. If you notice your condition worsening or an increase in side effects such as dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision or drowsiness after starting these medications, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Oxybutynin nor Detrol should be taken if you are currently taking or have recently been on certain types of antifungal or antibiotic drugs. Always inform your physician about any other medications that you're taking; some of these will require a period to clear from the system to prevent dangerous interactions with Oxybutynin and Detrol. It's important to note that both of these bladder control medicines can also cause heat stroke due to decreased sweating if used in a hot environment. Therefore avoid overheating under the sun or at high-temperature locations while using them.

How much do Oxybutynin and Detrol cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 60 tablets of Detrol LA (4 mg) averages around $400, which works out to about $13.33/day.
  • The price for a similar quantity (60 tablets) of Oxybutynin ER (10 mg), also known as Ditropan XL, is around $280, resulting in approximately $9.33/day.

Thus, if you are taking the maximum recommended dose for both medications, then brand-name Oxybutynin tends to be less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. However, it's important to remember that cost should not be your sole consideration when choosing between these two medications.

For their generic counterparts:

  • Generic oxybutynin costs significantly less with prices starting from as low as $0.30 per day.
  • Tolterodine tartrate (generic version of Detrol) is available in packs ranging from 30 up to 90 capsules (4 mg). Prices vary widely depending on location and insurance coverage but generally fall within the range of $1 - $3 per day.

Both medicines effectively treat overactive bladder symptoms though they may have different side effects profiles and drug interactions that could influence your choice between them.

Popularity of Oxybutynin and Detrol

Oxybutynin, available in both generic form and under brand names such as Ditropan, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 1.8 million people in the US in 2020. Oxybutynin accounted for just over 40% of anticholinergic prescriptions for urinary symptoms in the US. As an antimuscarinic agent, oxybutynin has been a common choice for patients suffering from bladder disorders like urinary incontinence and overactive bladder syndrome.

Tolterodine, including branded versions such as Detrol, was prescribed to approximately 1.2 million individuals in the USA during this same period. In the US market share of drugs treating these conditions, tolterodine represents roughly a quarter of all prescriptions filled - placing it second only to oxybutynin among medications used primarily for their antimuscarinic properties. Over recent years though there has been a slight shift towards newer generation treatments with more selective mechanisms of action that provide similar efficacy but with potentially fewer side effects.


Both Oxybutynin and Detrol (tolterodine) have long-standing records of usage in patients with overactive bladder, supported by numerous clinical studies and meta-analyses indicating that they are more effective than placebo treatments. In some cases, the drugs may be combined, but this is subject to careful consideration by a physician as they can also interact with each other. Due to their different mechanisms of action, with oxybutynin acting primarily on muscarinic receptors in the bladder to reduce spasms and increase capacity, while Detrol acts selectively on these same receptors specifically within the urinary tract without affecting other parts of the body as much - they tend to be prescribed under different circumstances.

Oxybutynin is often considered a first-line treatment option due to its lower cost and longer history of use. However, Detrol might be preferred if minimizing side effects like dry mouth or constipation is a priority because it has fewer anticholinergic side effects than oxybutynin.

Both drugs are available in generic form which represents significant cost savings especially for patients who must pay out-of-pocket. Both Oxybutynin and Detrol require an adjustment period; meaning that desired effects may not manifest instantly after starting treatment.

The side-effect profile between both medications differs slightly; although generally well-tolerated by most individuals, Oxybutynin tends to cause more dry mouth and constipation compared to Detrol. For both drugs, patients should closely monitor any changes in their urinary habits or any adverse reactions when starting treatment - seeking medical help immediately if severe discomfort or complications arise.