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Below are the general guidelines for dosing prednisone. Note that these dosages may be adjusted on a case-by-case basis for individual patients. Always follow your prescribing physician’s instructions for taking prednisone.

The following information comes from DailyMed, the official FDA label information provider for drugs.

Usual Adult Dose for:

The initial dosage of prednisone may vary from 5 mg to 60 mg per day, depending on the specific disease being treated. In situations of less severity lower doses will generally suffice, while in selected patients higher initial doses may be required. The initial dosage should be maintained or adjusted until a satisfactory response is noted. If after a reasonable period of time there is a lack of satisfactory clinical response, prednisone should be discontinued and the patient transferred to other appropriate therapy.

IT SHOULD BE EMPHASIZED THAT DOSAGE REQUIREMENTS ARE VARIABLE AND MUST BE INDIVIDUALIZED ON THE BASIS OF THE DISEASE UNDER TREATMENT AND THE RESPONSE OF THE PATIENT.

Gastric irritation may be reduced if taken before, during, or immediately after meals or with food or milk.

The maximal activity of the adrenal cortex is between 2 am and 8 am, and it is minimal between 4 pm and midnight. Exogenous corticosteroids suppress adrenocortical activity the least when given at the time of maximal activity (am) for single dose administration. Therefore, it is recommended that prednisone be administered in the morning prior to 9 am and when large doses are given, administration of antacids between meals to help prevent peptic ulcers. Multiple dose therapy should be evenly distributed in evenly spaced intervals throughout the day.

Dietary salt restriction may be advisable in patients.

Do not stop taking this medicine without first talking to your doctor. Avoid abrupt withdrawal of therapy.

After a favorable response is noted, the proper maintenance dosage should be determined by decreasing the initial drug dosage in small increments at appropriate time intervals until the lowest dosage which will maintain an adequate clinical response is reached. It should be kept in mind that constant monitoring is needed in regard to drug dosage.

Included in the situations which may make dosage adjustments necessary are changes in clinical status secondary to remissions or exacerbations in the disease process, the patient’s individual drug responsiveness, and the effect of patient exposure to stressful situations not directly related to the disease entity under treatment; in this latter situation, it may be necessary to increase the dosage of prednisone for a period of time consistent with the patient’s condition. If after long-term therapy the drug is to be stopped, it is recommended that it be withdrawn gradually rather than abruptly.

Multiple Sclerosis

In the treatment of acute exacerbations of multiple sclerosis daily doses of 200 mg (or more if acute exacerbation) of prednisolone for a week followed by 80 mg every other day for 1 month (physicians may choose to do a longer/different taper depending on the patient’s individual situation) have been shown to be effective. (Dosage range is the same for prednisone and prednisolone.)

Other Uses

NOTE: There are many other uses for prednisone including Iodinated contrast media allergic-like reaction, myopathies, asthma exacerbation, angioedema, gout, and many other indications. Always follow your physician’s instructions when taking steroids, as taking incorrectly may be harmful. Also, there are many other indications for prednisone that are “off-label use,” which implies uses for a medication that have not officially been approved.

Common doses: (note many doses are patient specific, which is why we did not include all regimens)

Asthma Exacerbation: 40-60 mg each day for 3-10 days

Gout: 30 – 40 mg each day

Alternate Day Therapy

Alternate day therapy is a corticosteroid dosing regimen in which twice the usual daily dose of corticoid is administered every other morning. The purpose of this mode of therapy is to provide the patient requiring long-term pharmacologic dose treatment with the beneficial effects of corticoids while minimizing certain undesirable effects, including pituitary-adrenal suppression, the cushingoid state, corticoid withdrawal symptoms, and growth suppression in children.

The rationale for this treatment schedule is based on two major premises: (a) the anti-inflammatory or therapeutic effect of corticoids persists longer than their physical presence and metabolic effects and (b) administration of the corticosteroid every other morning allows for re-establishment of more nearly normal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity on the off-steroid day.

A brief review of the HPA physiology may be helpful in understanding this rationale. Acting primarily through the hypothalamus a fall in free cortisol stimulates the pituitary gland to produce increasing amounts of corticotropin (ACTH) while a rise in free cortisol inhibits ACTH secretion. Normally the HPA system is characterized by diurnal (circadian) rhythm. Serum levels of ACTH rise from a low point about 10 pm to a peak level about 6 am. Increasing levels of ACTH stimulate adrenocortical activity resulting in a rise in plasma cortisol with maximal levels occurring between 2 am and 8 am. This rise in cortisol dampens ACTH production and in turn adrenocortical activity. There is a gradual fall in plasma corticoids during the day with lowest levels occurring about midnight.

The diurnal rhythm of the HPA axis is lost in Cushing’s disease, a syndrome of adrenocortical hyperfunction characterized by obesity with centripetal fat distribution, thinning of the skin with easy bruisability, muscle wasting with weakness, hypertension, latent diabetes, osteoporosis, electrolyte imbalance, etc. The same clinical findings of hyperadrenocorticism may be noted during long-term pharmacologic dose corticoid therapy administered in conventional daily divided doses. It would appear, then, that a disturbance in the diurnal cycle with maintenance of elevated corticoid values during the night may play a significant role in the development of undesirable corticoid effects. Escape from these constantly elevated plasma levels for even short periods of time may be instrumental in protecting against undesirable pharmacologic effects.

During conventional pharmacologic dose corticosteroid therapy, ACTH production is inhibited with subsequent suppression of cortisol production by the adrenal cortex. Recovery time for normal HPA activity is variable depending upon the dose and duration of treatment. During this time the patient is vulnerable to any stressful situation. Although it has been shown that there is considerably less adrenal suppression following a single morning dose of prednisolone (10 mg) as opposed to a quarter of that dose administered every 6 hours, there is evidence that some suppressive effect on adrenal activity may be carried over into the following day when pharmacologic doses are used. Further, it has been shown that a single dose of certain corticosteroids will produce adrenocortical suppression for two or more days. Other corticoids, including methylprednisolone, hydrocortisone, prednisone, and prednisolone, are considered to be short acting (producing adrenocortical suppression for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ days following a single dose) and thus are recommended for alternate day therapy.

The following should be kept in mind when considering alternate day therapy:

  1. Basic principles and indications for corticosteroid therapy should apply. The benefits of alternate day therapy should not encourage the indiscriminate use of steroids.
  2. Alternate day therapy is a therapeutic technique primarily designed for patients in whom long-term pharmacologic corticoid therapy is anticipated.
  3. In less severe disease processes in which corticoid therapy is indicated, it may be possible to initiate treatment with alternate day therapy. More severe disease states usually will require daily divided high dose therapy for initial control of the disease process. The initial suppressive dose level should be continued until satisfactory clinical response is obtained, usually four to ten days in the case of many allergic and collagen diseases. It is important to keep the period of initial suppressive dose as brief as possible particularly when subsequent use of alternate day therapy is intended. Once control has been established, two courses are available: (a) change to alternate day therapy and then gradually reduce the amount of corticoid given every other day or (b) following control of the disease process reduce the daily dose of corticoid to the lowest effective level as rapidly as possible and then change over to an alternate day schedule. Theoretically, course (a) may be preferable.
  4. Because of the advantages of alternate day therapy, it may be desirable to try patients on this form of therapy who have been on daily corticoids for long periods of time (e.g., patients with rheumatoid arthritis). Since these patients may already have a suppressed HPA axis, establishing them on alternate day therapy may be difficult and not always successful. However, it is recommended that regular attempts be made to change them over. It may be helpful to triple or even quadruple the daily maintenance dose and administer this every other day rather than just doubling the daily dose if difficulty is encountered. Once the patient is again controlled, an attempt should be made to reduce this dose to a minimum.
  5. As indicated above, certain corticosteroids, because of their prolonged suppressive effect on adrenal activity, are not recommended for alternate day therapy (e.g., dexamethasone and betamethasone).
  6. The maximal activity of the adrenal cortex is between 2 am and 8 am, and it is minimal between 4 pm and midnight. Exogenous corticosteroids suppress adrenocortical activity the least, when given at the time of maximal activity (am).
  7. In using alternate day therapy it is important, as in all therapeutic situations to individualize and tailor the therapy to each patient. Complete control of symptoms will not be possible in all patients. An explanation of the benefits of alternate day therapy will help the patient to understand and tolerate the possible flare-up in symptoms which may occur in the latter part of the off-steroid day. Other symptomatic therapy may be added or increased at this time if needed.
  8. In the event of an acute flare-up of the disease process, it may be necessary to return to a full suppressive daily divided corticoid dose for control. Once control is again established alternate day therapy may be re-instituted.
  9. Although many of the undesirable features of corticosteroid therapy can be minimized by alternate day therapy, as in any therapeutic situation, the physician must carefully weigh the benefit-risk ratio for each patient in whom corticoid therapy is being considered.

What if I Miss a Dose of Prednisone?

If you miss a dose of prednisone, take the medication as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Be sure not to double doses.

What if I overdose on prednisone?

The effects of accidental ingestion of large quantities of prednisone over a very short period of time have not been reported, but prolonged use of the drug can produce mental symptoms, moon face, abnormal fat deposits, fluid retention, excessive appetite, weight gain, hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth), acne, striae (stretch marks), ecchymosis, increased sweating, pigmentation, dry scaly skin, thinning scalp hair, increased blood pressure, tachycardia, thrombophlebitis, decreased resistance to infection, negative nitrogen balance with delayed bone and wound healing, headache, weakness, menstrual disorders, accentuated menopausal symptoms, neuropathy, fractures, osteoporosis, peptic ulcer, decreased glucose tolerance, hypokalemia, and adrenal insufficiency. Hepatomegaly and abdominal distention have been observed in children. 

Treatment of acute overdosage is by immediate gastric lavage or emesis (vomiting) followed by supportive and symptomatic therapy. If you or someone you know has taken more than the prescribed dose, call poison control and/or go to the emergency room immediately. For chronic overdosage in the face of severe disease requiring continuous steroid therapy the dosage of prednisone may be reduced only temporarily, or alternate day treatment may be introduced.

How is prednisone administered?

NOTE: Prednisone can sometimes make it harder to fall asleep, and it is best to take it in the morning with breakfast, unless prescribed twice daily or if your provider suggests alternative directions. Always consult your physician if you are unsure when to take prednisone.

Dosage of RAYOS should be individualized according to the severity of the disease and the response of the patient. For pediatric patients, the recommended dosage should be governed by the same considerations rather than strict adherence to the ratio indicated by age or body weight.

The maximal activity of the adrenal cortex is between 2 am and 8 am and is minimal between 4 pm and midnight. Exogenous corticosteroids suppress adrenocorticoid activity the least when given at the time of maximal activity. RAYOS is a delayed-release formulation of prednisone which releases the active substance beginning approximately 4 hours after intake. The timing of RAYOS administration should take into account the delayed-release pharmacokinetics and the disease or condition being treated. 

The initial dosage of RAYOS may vary from 5 to 60 mg per day depending on the specific disease entity being treated. Patients currently on immediate release prednisone, prednisolone, or methylprednisolone should be switched to RAYOS at an equivalent dose based on relative potency. 

In situations of less severity, lower doses will generally suffice while in selected patients higher initial doses may be required. The initial dosage should be maintained or adjusted until a satisfactory response is noted. If after a reasonable period there is a lack of satisfactory clinical response, RAYOS should be discontinued and the patient transferred to other appropriate therapy. It should be emphasized that dosage requirements are variable and must be individualized on the basis of the disease under treatment and the response of the patient. 

After a favorable response is noted, the proper maintenance dosage should be determined by decreasing the initial drug dosage in small increments at appropriate time intervals until the lowest dosage which will maintain an adequate clinical response is reached. It should be kept in mind that constant monitoring is needed in regard to drug dosage. Included in the situations which may make dosage adjustments necessary are changes in clinical status secondary to remissions or exacerbations in the disease process, the patient’s individual drug responsiveness, and the effect of patient exposure to stressful situations not directly related to the disease entity under treatment. In this latter situation it may be necessary to increase the dosage of RAYOS for a period of time consistent with the patient’s condition. If a period of spontaneous remission occurs in a chronic condition, treatment should be discontinued. If after long-term therapy the drug is to be stopped, it is recommended that it be withdrawn gradually rather than abruptly.

Blood pressure, body weight, routine laboratory studies (including 2-hour postprandial blood glucose and serum potassium), and chest X-ray should be obtained at regular intervals during prolonged therapy with RAYOS. Upper GI X-rays are desirable in patients with known or suspected peptic ulcer disease. Blood sugar should also be monitored if taking prednisone and if the patient has diabetes mellitus, since prednisone or other steroids can increase blood sugar.

Method of Administration 

RAYOS is for oral administration. RAYOS should be taken daily with food. RAYOS tablets should not be broken, divided, or chewed because the delayed release of prednisone is dependent on an intact coating.

How is prednisone supplied?

RAYOS delayed-release tablets (1 mg prednisone) are pale yellowish-white, round, unscored tablets embossed with “NP 1” on one side and supplied as:

NDC Number                        Size 

75987-020-01                      Bottle of 30 tablets

75987-020-02                Bottle of 100 tablets 

RAYOS delayed-release tablets (2 mg prednisone) are yellowish-white, round, unscored tablets embossed with “NP 2” on one side and supplied as: 

NDC Number                        Size 

75987-021-01                      Bottle of 30 tablets      

75987-021-02                      Bottle of 100 tablets 

RAYOS delayed-release tablets (5 mg prednisone) are light yellow, round, unscored tablets embossed with “NP 5” on one side and supplied as: 

NDC Number                        Size 

75987-022-01                      Bottle of 30 tablets      

75987-022-02                      Bottle of 100 tablets 

Store at 25°C (77°F); excursions permitted to 15-30°C (59-86°F).

Protect RAYOS tablets from light and moisture. 

Dispense in a tight, light-resistant container as defined in the USP using a child-resistant closure. 

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.


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