What type of drug is benperidol?

Benperidol is a typical first-generation antipsychotic. It belongs to the chemical class of butyrophenones, a group of antipsychotics with a similar chemical core of phenylbutyrophenone. Benperidol was first introduced in the late 1950s and was one of the first neuroleptics used to treat psychoses such as schizophrenia.

Benperidol and other typical first-generation antipsychotics work primarily by blocking postsynaptic dopamine D2 receptors, which leads to a decrease in dopaminergic neurochemical transmission. Hyperactivity of dopaminergic neurons and pathways, especially in the mesolimbic system of the brain, is associated with positive psychosis symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations and disorganized thinking. By blocking these dopamine receptors, typical antipsychotics like benperidol can reduce these positive symptoms.

However, benperidol also binds to other neurotransmitter receptors such as 5-HT2A, muscarinic M1, histamine H1 and noradrenaline α1 receptors. These bindings contribute to many of the side effects of benperidol such as extrapyramidal motor disorders, sedation and constipation. Because of these pronounced and distressing side effects, benperidol has largely lost significance in today’s psychiatric practice. It has been replaced by newer atypical antipsychotics that cause fewer side effects.

Although benperidol was a milestone in the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychoses, its clinical applications today are very limited. Its mechanism of action, which primarily involves blocking dopamine receptors, is still important for the antipsychotic effect, but leads to pronounced extrapyramidal side effects. Benperidol remains an important example of first-generation typical antipsychotics, but has been replaced by newer drugs with a more favorable side effect profile.

Benperidol’s effectiveness in reducing positive psychosis symptoms established the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia and the principle of using dopamine receptor blockade to achieve an antipsychotic effect. However, its side effects highlight the need for more selective and tailored approaches that avoid excessive blockade of dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Overall, benperidol represents an important step in the development of antipsychotic treatment, but its use today is very limited due to intolerable side effects.

There are various forms of drugs available, such as tablets or liquids, and each may have a separate patient information leaflet (PIL) for different doses. It is important to refer to the PIL for the specific form and dose of the drug that you have been prescribed.

You can search for further information and PILs on websites such as:

  • The British National Formulary (BNF)
  • Electronic medicines compendium (emc)
  • The National Library of Medicine's DailyMed
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 
  • Different drug forms like tablets or liquids have specific patient information leaflets (PIL) for various doses. Refer to the PIL for your prescribed drug form and dose.

    Search for PILs on websites like:


    • ANSM (Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé): ansm.sante.fr


    • AEMPS (Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios): aemps.gob.es


    • BfArM (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte): bfarm.de


    For questions about your medication:

    • Consult your doctor, a healthcare professional, or a pharmacist


    • Contact SOS Médecins: 3624
    • For mental health support, contact SOS Suicide: 01 45 39 40 00

    Belgium (French)

    Switzerland (French)

    • La Main Tendue: 143
    • Website: 143.ch

    Canada (French)

    • Centre de prévention du suicide du Québec: 1 866 APPELLE (1 866 277-3553)
    • Website: cpsquebec.ca


    • Contact emergency number: 112
    • For mental health support, contact Teléfono de la Esperanza: 717 003 717


    • Contact emergency number: 112
    • For mental health support, contact Telefonseelsorge: 0800 111 0 111 or 0800 111 0 222


    • Contact emergency number: 112
    • For mental health support, contact Telefono Amico: 199 284 284


    • Contact emergency number: 112
    • For mental health support, contact 113 Zelfmoordpreventie: 0800 0113


    • Contact emergency number: 112
    • For mental health support, contact Sos Voz Amiga: 21 354 45 45, 91 280 26 69, or 96 352 46 60

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