"Prescription use of benzodiazepinesâ€”a widely used class of sedative and anti-anxiety medicationsâ€”increases steadily with age, despite the known risks for older people, according to a comprehensive analysis of benzodiazepine prescribing in the Uni"...
When used intravenously, the following procedures should be undertaken to reduce the possibility of venous thrombosis, phlebitis, local irritation, swelling, and, rarely, vascular impairment; the solution should be injected slowly, taking at least one minute for each 5 mg (1 mL) given; do not use small veins, such as those on the dorsum of the hand or wrist; extreme care should be taken to avoid intra-arterial administration or extravasation.
Do not mix or dilute diazepam with other solutions or drugs in syringe or infusion container. If it is not feasible to administer diazepam directly I.V., it may be injected slowly through the infusion tubing as close as possible to the vein insertion.
Extreme care must be used in administering Diazepam Injection, particularly by the I.V. route, to the elderly, to very ill patients and to those with limited pulmonary reserve because of the possibility that apnea and/or cardiac arrest may occur. Concomitant use of barbiturates, alcohol or other central nervous system depressants increases depression with increased risk of apnea. Resuscitative equipment including that necessary to support respiration should be readily available.
When diazepam is used with a narcotic analgesic, the dosage of the narcotic should be reduced by at least one-third and administered in small increments. In some cases the use of a narcotic may not be necessary.
Diazepam Injection should not be administered to patients in shock, coma, or in acute alcoholic intoxication with depression of vital signs. As is true of most CNS-acting drugs, patients receiving diazepam should be cautioned against engaging inhazardous occupations requiring complete mental alertness, such as operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle.
Usage in Pregnancy
An increased risk of congenital malformations associated with the use of minor tranquilizers (diazepam, meprobamate and chlordiazepoxide) during the first trimester of pregnancy has been suggested in several studies. Because use of these drugs is rarely a matter of urgency, their use during this period should almost always be avoided. The possibility that a woman of childbearing potential may be pregnant at the time of institution of therapy should be considered. Patients should be advised that if they become pregnant during therapy or intend to become pregnant they should communicate with their physicians about the desirability of discontinuing the drug.
In humans, measurable amounts of diazepam were found in maternal and cord blood, indicating placental transfer of the drug. Until additional information is available, diazepam injection is not recommended for obstetrical use.
Prolonged central nervous system depression has been observed in neonates, apparently due to inability to biotransform diazepam into inactive metabolites.
In pediatric use, in order to obtain maximal clinical effect with the minimum amount of drug and thus to reduce the risk of hazardous side effects, such as apnea or prolonged periods of somnolence, it is recommended that the drug be given slowly over a three-minute period in a dosage not to exceed 0.25 mg/kg. After an interval of 15 to 30 minutes the initial dosage can be safely repeated. If, however, relief of symptoms is not obtained after a third administration, adjunctive therapy appropriate to the condition being treated is recommended.
Benzyl alcohol has been reported to be associated with a fatal gasping syndrome in premature infants.
Although seizures may be brought under control promptly, a significant proportion of patients experience a return to seizure activity, presumably due to the short-lived effect of diazepam after I.V. administration. The physician should be prepared to re-administer the drug. However, diazepam is not recommended for maintenance, and once seizures are brought under control, consideration should be given to the administration of agents useful in longer term control of seizures.
If diazepam is to be combined with other psychotropic agents or anticonvulsant drugs, careful consideration should be given to the pharmacology of the agents to be employed-particularly with known compounds which may potentiate the action of diazepam, such as phenothiazines, narcotics, barbiturates, MAO inhibitors and other antidepressants. In highly anxious patients with evidence of accompanying depression, particularly those who may have suicidal tendencies, protective measures may be necessary. The usual precautions in treating patients with impaired hepatic function should be observed. Metabolites of diazepam are excreted by the kidney; to avoid their excess accumulation, caution should be exercised in the administration to patients with compromised kidney function.
Since an increase in cough reflex and laryngospasm may occur with peroral endoscopic procedures, the use of a topical anesthetic agent and the availability of necessary countermeasures are recommended.
Until additional information is available, diazepam injection is not recommended for obstetrical use.
Diazepam injection has produced hypotension or muscular weakness in some patients particularly when used with narcotics, barbiturates or alcohol. Lower doses (usually 2 mg to 5 mg) should be used for elderly and debilitated patients.
The clearance of diazepam and certain other benzodiazepines can be delayed in association with cimetidine administration. The clinical significance of this is unclear.
Last reviewed on RxList: 6/17/2008
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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