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Trade namesDyrenium, others
  • 6-phenylpteridine-2,4,7-triamine
Clinical data
Drug classPotassium-sparing diuretic[1]
Main usesHeart failure, high blood pressure, swelling[1]
Side effectsHigh potassium, kidney problems, liver problems, nausea, weakness, low platelets[1]
  • AU: C
  • US: C (Risk not ruled out)
Routes of
By mouth
External links
Legal status
  • AU: S4 (Prescription only)
  • UK: POM (Prescription only)
  • US: ℞-only
Protein binding67%
Metabolismhydroxylation to para-hydroxytriamterene
Elimination half-life1-2 hours, active metabolite 3 hours
Excretionrenal <50%, 21% unchanged
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass253.269 g·mol−1
  • InChI=1S/C12H11N7/c13-9-7(6-4-2-1-3-5-6)16-8-10(14)18-12(15)19-11(8)17-9/h1-5H,(H6,13,14,15,17,18,19) checkY

Triamterene, sold under the brand name Dyrenium among others, is a medication used to treat heart failure, high blood pressure, or swelling.[1] For high blood pressure it is generally used together with other medication.[1] It is taken by mouth.[1] Maximal effects may take a few days.[1]

Common side effects include high potassium, kidney problems, liver problems, nausea, weakness, and low platelets.[1] Urine may also appear blue tinged.[2] Great care is required in those with diabetes, older people, and those with gout.[2] While use is not generally recommended in pregnancy, there is no clear evidence of harm.[3] It is a potassium-sparing diuretic.[1]

Triamterene was approved for medical use in the United States in 1964.[1] It is avaliable as a generic medication.[4] In the United Kingdom a month costs the NHS about 42 pounds at a dose of 50 mg per day as of 2021.[4] This amount in the United States costs about 250 USD.[5] It is available in combination as hydrochlorothiazide/triamterene, chlortalidone/triamterene, and furosemide/triamterene.[2]

Medical uses


For swelling the first week it is generally taken at a dose of 150 to 250 mg per day.[2] This is than decreased to every other day.[2]

For high blood pressure a lower dose of 50 to 100 mg a day may be used.[1] The maximum dose is 300 mg per day.[1]

Side effects

Common side effects may include a depletion of sodium, folic acid ,and calcium, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, fatigue, and dry mouth. Serious side effects may include heart palpitations, tingling/numbness, fever, chills, sore throat, rash, and back pain. Triamterene can also cause kidney stones through direct crystallization or by seeding calcium oxalate stones. Triamterene is best avoided in patients with chronic kidney disease due to the possibility of hyperkalemia. People using this drug should use salt substitute cautiously.[6]

Triamterene may impart a blue fluorescent color to the urine.


Diabetes: Use with caution in people with prediabetes or diabetes mellitus as there may be a change in glucose control.

Liver impairment: Use with caution in people with severe liver dysfunction; in cirrhosis, avoid electrolyte and acid/base imbalances that might lead to hepatic encephalopathy.

Kidney failure: combined triamterene and indomethacin therapy caused reversible acute kidney injury in some people.[7]

Kidney stones: Use with caution in people with kidney stones.

Use should be avoided if the creatinine clearance is less than 10 ml/minute.

Mechanism of action

Triamterene directly blocks the epithelial sodium channel[8] (ENaC) on the lumen side of the kidney collecting tubule.[9]: 127  Other diuretics cause a decrease in the sodium concentration of the forming urine due to the entry of sodium into the cell via the ENaC, and the concomitant exit of potassium from the principal cell into the forming urine. Blocking ENaC prevents this from happening. Amiloride works in the same way. Sodium channel blockers directly inhibit the entry of sodium into the sodium channels.

With hydrochlorothiazide

Triamterene is commonly prepared in combination with hydrochlorothiazide for treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure) and edema (water retention). This combination is in a class of medications called diuretics or 'water pills', and causes the kidneys to get rid of the body's unneeded water and sodium through the urine.[10]


The triamterene ring system is found in many naturally occurring compounds, such as folic acid and riboflavin. The observation that the naturally occurring compound xanthopterin had renal affects led scientists at Smith Kline and French Laboratories in Philadelphia to begin a medicinal chemistry campaign to discover potential drugs, as part of a program to discover potassium-sparing diuretics.[9]: 125  The first clinical studies were published in 1961 and the first trials combining it with hydrochlorothiazide were published the next year.[9]: 126 [11][12]

Smith Kline & French launched it as a single agent under the brand Dyrenium in 1964.[13]: 83  The combination drug with hydrochlorothiazidem, Dyazide, was first approved in the US in 1965 and the first generic, brought by Bolar Pharmaceutical Co., was approved in 1987.[14][15] In 1986 Dyazide was the most prescribed drug in the US and had $325 million in sales, making it SmithKline Beckman's second-biggest seller behind Tagamet.[15]

The patents had expired on Dyazide in 1980, but complications arose with the introductions of generics, because the formulation of Dyazide resulted in variable batches that made it impossible for generic manufacturers to show that their versions were bioequivalent.[16][17]

Bolar Pharmaceutical was in the running to be the first to bring a generic, but its application was delayed by these concerns about whether its formulation provided the same amount of each drug; these were complicated by accusations that Bolar had fraudulently substituted Dyazide for its own version to conduct studies that were submitted to the FDA.[15] Shortly after Bolar's generic was approved, further concerns were raised with regard to Bolar's applications to market generics more generally; these findings among others raised widespread concern among doctors and the public over whether generics were really the same as branded drugs.[18][19] Bolar ended up recalling its generic form of Dyazide and withdrawing the product in 1990.[20] In 1991 the US Justice Department on behalf of the FDA filed 20 criminal charges against Bolar for its fraud,[21] and early the next year Bolar pled guilty and agreed to pay a $10M fine.[22] Public concern over the safety of generic drugs was further exacerbated by a Congressional investigation into bribery at the FDA by generics companies that found pervasive corruption; the investigation had been spurred by the generics company Mylan, which had hired private investigators based on its beliefs that competitors were getting unfair advantages in getting their generics approved.[23]

Mylan itself developed a version of a triamterene/hydrochlorothiazide combination drug after the Dyazide patent expired, and used a different, more stable formulation[17] as well as different dosages of each active ingredient (50 mg hydrochlorothiazide and 75 mg triamterene, compared with Dyazide's 25 mg hydrochlorothiazide and 50 mg triamterene) so it had to get approval as a new drug, as opposed to a generic; their product was called Maxzide and was approved in 1984.[24][25] The higher dose allowed once per day dosing, which Mylan and its marketing partner, Lederle, believed would help it compete against Dyazide, which had $210M in sales in 1983.[25]

Mylan's patents on the drug were declared invalid in court, and its marketing exclusivity expired in 1987, prompting a rush of generic competition and litigation by two of them, American Therapeutics Inc. and Vitarine Pharmaceuticals, with the FDA.[26] Vitarine, along with Par Pharmaceutical, were two of the companies that Mylan had targeted in its investigation into corruption and it turned out that Par and Vitarine had each used Mylan's Maxzide to obtain its bioequivalence data, leading both companies to withdraw its generic competitor to Mylan's product.[23][27] Generics eventually entered the market.[28]


While there is a lack of randomized controlled trials evaluating the use of triamterene in the treatment of Ménière's disease, the typical treatment is 37.5 mg of triamterene with 25 mg of hydrochlorothiazide 1–2 capsules daily.[29][30] This recommendation was given a Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy (SORT) grade of C.[citation needed]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 "Triamterene Monograph for Professionals". Archived from the original on 17 January 2017. Retrieved 17 September 2021. {{cite web}}: More than one of |archivedate= and |archive-date= specified (help); More than one of |archiveurl= and |archive-url= specified (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 BNF (80 ed.). BMJ Group and the Pharmaceutical Press. September 2020 – March 2021. p. 244. ISBN 978-0-85711-369-6.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date format (link)
  3. "Triamterene (Dyrenium) Use During Pregnancy". Archived from the original on 31 October 2020. Retrieved 17 September 2021. {{cite web}}: More than one of |archivedate= and |archive-date= specified (help); More than one of |archiveurl= and |archive-url= specified (help)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named BNF2021
  5. "Triamterene Prices, Coupons & Patient Assistance Programs". Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  6. LoSalt Advisory Statement (PDF) Archived December 10, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  7. Favre, L; Glasson, P; Vallotton, MB (1982). "Reversible acute renal failure from combined triamterene and indomethacin: a study in healthy subjects". Ann Intern Med. 96 (3): 317–20. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-96-3-317. PMID 6949485.
  8. Busch AE, Suessbrich H, Kunzelmann K, Hipper A, Greger R, Waldegger S, et al. (September 1996). "Blockade of epithelial Na+ channels by triamterenes - underlying mechanisms and molecular basis". Pflugers Archiv. 432 (5): 760–6. doi:10.1007/s004240050196. PMID 8772124.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Fink CA, McKenna JM, Werner LH (2003). "Diuretic and Uricosuric Agents". In Abraham DJ (ed.). Burger's medicinal chemistry and drug discovery. Volume 3: Cardiovascular Agents and Endocrines (6th ed.). Wiley. pp. 55–154. ISBN 978-0471370291.
  10. "Triamterene and Hydrochlorothiazide" Archived 2016-07-05 at the Wayback Machine. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. September 1, 2008.
  11. Crosley AP, Ronquillo LM, Strickland WH, Alexander F (February 1962). "Triamterene, a new natruretic agent. Preliminary observations in man". Annals of Internal Medicine. 56 (2): 241–51. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-56-2-241. PMID 13882367.
  12. Heath WC, Freis ED (October 1963). "Triamterene with Hydrochlorothiazide in the Treatment of Hypertension". JAMA. 186 (2): 119–22. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03710020039012. PMID 14056525.
  13. Landau R, Achilladelis B, Scriabine A (1999). Pharmaceutical Innovation: Revolutionizing Human Health. Chemical Heritage Foundation series in innovation and entrepreneurship. Vol. 2. Chemical Heritage Foundation. ISBN 9780941901215.
  14. FDA Approval History NDA 016042: Dyazide Archived 2021-08-29 at the Wayback Machine. Page accessed Sept 8 2016
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Ron Wolf for The Philadelphia Inquirer. August 22, 1987 Smithkline Loses Exclusive Rights To Drug Archived 2016-09-16 at the Wayback Machine
  16. Boehm G, Yao L, Han L, Zheng Q (September 2013). "Development of the generic drug industry in the US after the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984". Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica B. 3 (5): 297–311. doi:10.1016/j.apsb.2013.07.004.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Seaman J, Landry JT (2011). Mylan 50 Years of Unconventional Success. University Press of New England. p. 50. ISBN 9781611682700.
  18. Strickland C (15 October 1989). "Bolar: A Drug Company Under Siege". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 14 April 2021. Retrieved 12 June 2021. {{cite news}}: More than one of |archivedate= and |archive-date= specified (help); More than one of |archiveurl= and |archive-url= specified (help)
  19. Cimons M (29 August 1989). "FDA to Lift OK of Last Dyazide Generic Version". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2018-11-01. Retrieved 2021-06-12. {{cite news}}: More than one of |archivedate= and |archive-date= specified (help); More than one of |archiveurl= and |archive-url= specified (help)
  20. "Bolar Recalls Generic Version Of Dyazide And Extended Release Phenytoin, Saying "Bioequivalence Cannot Be Assured"; Products; Represent 52% of Sales". Pink Sheet. February 5, 1990. Archived from the original on October 2, 2017. Retrieved June 12, 2021. {{cite news}}: More than one of |archivedate= and |archive-date= specified (help); More than one of |archiveurl= and |archive-url= specified (help)
  21. Shaw D (February 27, 1991). "U.s. Charges Bolar Pharmaceutical With Misrepresenting Its Products". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2016-09-16. Retrieved 2021-06-12. {{cite news}}: More than one of |archivedate= and |archive-date= specified (help); More than one of |archiveurl= and |archive-url= specified (help)
  22. Freudenheim M (28 February 1991). "Bolar Plans Guilty Plea On Generics". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 1 November 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2021. {{cite news}}: More than one of |archivedate= and |archive-date= specified (help); More than one of |archiveurl= and |archive-url= specified (help)
  23. 23.0 23.1 Freudenheim M (10 September 1989). "Exposing the F.D.A." The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 January 2021. Retrieved 12 June 2021. {{cite news}}: More than one of |archivedate= and |archive-date= specified (help); More than one of |archiveurl= and |archive-url= specified (help)
  24. FDA Approval History NDA 019129: Maxzide Archived 2021-08-29 at the Wayback Machine Page accessed Sept 8, 2016
  25. 25.0 25.1 Pink Sheet Oct 22, 1984 Mylan's Maxzide is "Approvable" at FDA: Lederle To Market Brand Competition to Smithkline's No. 3-Ranked Dyazide; Final Approval Anticipated "Imminently" Archived 2017-01-17 at the Wayback Machine
  26. Reid K (November 17, 1987). "US Judge to Rule on Drug Marketing". Journal of Commerce. Archived from the original on November 1, 2018. Retrieved June 12, 2021. {{cite news}}: More than one of |archivedate= and |archive-date= specified (help); More than one of |archiveurl= and |archive-url= specified (help)
  27. Andrews EL (31 July 1989). "F.D.A. Inquiry on Generic Drugs Focuses on Changes in Ingredients". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 October 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2021. {{cite news}}: More than one of |archivedate= and |archive-date= specified (help); More than one of |archiveurl= and |archive-url= specified (help)
  28. Generic Maxzide Archived 2020-08-15 at the Wayback Machine Page accessed Sept 8 2016
  29. Swartz R, Longwell P (March 2005). "Treatment of vertigo" (PDF). American Family Physician. 71 (6): 1115–22. PMID 15791890. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-11-01. Retrieved 2021-06-12. {{cite journal}}: More than one of |accessdate= and |access-date= specified (help); More than one of |archivedate= and |archive-date= specified (help); More than one of |archiveurl= and |archive-url= specified (help)
  30. Sloane PD, Coeytaux RR, Beck RS, Dallara J (May 2001). "Dizziness: state of the science". Annals of Internal Medicine. 134 (9 Pt 2): 823–32. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-134-9_Part_2-200105011-00005. PMID 11346317.

External links