Doxapram should not be used in conjunction with mechanical ventilation.
Exposure to excessive amounts of benzyl alcohol has been associated with toxicity (hypotension, metabolic acidosis), particularly in neonates, and an increased incidence of kernicterus, particularly in small preterm infants. There have been rare reports of deaths, primarily in preterm infants, associated with exposure to excessive amounts of benzyl alcohol. The amount of benzyl alcohol from medications is usually considered negligible compared to that received in flush solutions containing benzyl alcohol. Administration of high dosages of medications containing this preservative must take into account the total amount of benzyl alcohol administered. The amount of benzyl alcohol at which toxicity may occur is not known. If the patient requires more than the recommended dosages or other medications containing this preservative, the practitioner must consider the daily metabolic load of benzyl alcohol from these combined sources (see PRECAUTIONS, Pediatric Use).
In Postanesthetic Use
- Doxapram is neither an antagonist to muscle relaxant drugs nor a specific narcotic antagonist. More specific tests (eg, peripheral nerve stimulation, airway pressures, head lift, pulse oximetry, and end-tidal carbon dioxide) to assess adequacy of ventilation are recommended before administering doxapram.
- Doxapram should be administered with great care and only under careful supervision to patients with hypermetabolic states such as hyperthyroidism or pheochromocytoma.
- Since narcosis may recur after stimulation with doxapram, care should be taken to maintain close observation until the patient has been fully alert for ½ to 1 hour.
- In patients who have received general anesthesia utilizing a volatile agent known to sensitize the myocardium to catecholamines, administration of doxapram should be delayed until the volatile agent has been excreted in order to lessen the potential for arrhythmias, including ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation (see PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS).
In Drug-Induced CNS and Respiratory Depression
Doxapram alone may not stimulate adequate spontaneous breathing or provide sufficient arousal in patients who are severely depressed either due to respiratory failure or to CNS depressant drugs, but may be used as an adjunct to established supportive measures and resuscitative techniques.
In Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Because of the associated increased work of breathing, do not increase the rate of infusion of doxapram in severely ill patients in an attempt to lower pCO2.
- An adequate airway is essential and airway protection should be considered since doxapram may stimulate vomiting.
- Recommended dosages of doxapram should be employed and maximum total dosages should not be exceeded. In order to avoid side effects, it is advisable to use the minimum effective dosage.
- Monitoring of the blood pressure, pulse rate, and deep tendon reflexes is recommended to prevent overdosage.
- Vascular extravasation or use of a single injection site over an extended period should be avoided since either may lead to thrombophlebitis or local skin irritation.
- Rapid infusion may result in hemolysis.
- Lowered pCO2 induced by hyperventilation produces cerebral vasoconstriction and slowing of the cerebral circulation. This should be taken into consideration on an individual basis. In certain patients a pressor effect of doxapram on the pulmonary circulation may result in a fall of the arterial pO2 probably due to a worsening of ventilation perfusion-matching in the lungs despite an overall improvement in alveolar ventilation and a fall in pCO2. Patients should be carefully supervised taking into account available blood gas measurements.
- There is a risk that doxapram will produce adverse effects (including seizures) due to general central nervous system stimulation. Muscle involvement may range from fasciculation to spasticity. Anticonvulsants such as intravenous short-acting barbiturates, along with oxygen and resuscitative equipment should be readily available to manage overdosage manifested by excessive central nervous system stimulation. Slow administration of the drug and careful observation of the patient during administration and for some time subsequently are advisable. These precautions are to assure that the protective reflexes have been restored and to prevent possible post-hyperventilation or hypoventilation.
- Doxapram should be administered cautiously to patients receiving sympathomimetic or monoamine oxidase inhibiting drugs, since an additive pressor effect may occur.
- Blood pressure increases are generally modest but significant increases have been noted in some patients. Because of this, doxapram is not recommended for use in patients with severe hypertension (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
- Cardiovascular effects may include various dysrhythmias. Patients receiving doxaprom should be monitored for disturbance of their cardiac rhythm.
- If sudden hypotension or dyspnea develops, doxapram should be stopped.
- Doxapram should be administered with caution to patients with significantly impaired hepatic or renal function as a reduction in the rate of metabolism or excretion of metabolites may alter the response.
In Postanesthetic Use
- The same consideration to pre-existing disease states should be exercised as in non-anesthetized individuals. See CONTRAINDICATIONS and WARNINGS covering use in hypertension, asthma, disturbances of respiratory mechanics including airway obstruction, CNS disorders including increased cerebrospinal fluid pressure, convulsive disorders, acute agitation, and profound metabolic disorders.
- See PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS.
In Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Arrhythmias seen in some patients in acute respiratory failure secondary to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are probably the result of hypoxia. Doxapram should be used with caution in these patients.
- Arterial blood gases should be drawn prior to the initiation of doxapram infusion and oxygen administration, then at least every ½ hour during the infusion period to prevent development of CO2 retention and acidosis in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with acute hypercapnia. Doxapram administration does not diminish the need for careful monitoring of the patient or the need for supplemental oxygen in patients with acute respiratory failure. Doxapram should be stopped if the arterial blood gases deteriorate, and mechanical ventilation should be initiated.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
No carcinogenic or mutagenic studies have been performed using doxapram. Doxapram did not adversely affect the breeding performance of rats.
Pregnancy Category B
Reproduction studies have been performed in rats at doses up to 1.6 times the human dose and have revealed no evidence of impaired fertility or harm to the fetus due to doxapram. There are, however, no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Because the animals in the reproduction studies were dosed by the IM and oral routes and animal reproduction studies, in general, are not always predictive of human response, this drug should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.
It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when doxapram hydrochloride is administered to a nursing woman.
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients below the age of 12 years have not been established. This product contains benzyl alcohol as a preservative. Benzyl alcohol, a component of this product, has been associated with serious adverse events and death, particularly in pediatric patients. The “gasping syndrome”, (characterized by central nervous system depression, metabolic acidosis, gasping respirations, and high levels of benzyl alcohol and its metabolites found in the blood and urine) has been associated with benzyl alcohol dosages > 99 mg/kg/day in neonates and low-birth-weight neonates. Additional symptoms may include gradual neurological deterioration, seizures, intracranial hemorrhage, hematologic abnormalities, skin breakdown, hepatic and renal failure, hypotension, bradycardia, and cardiovascular collapse. Although normal therapeutic doses of this product deliver amounts of benzyl alcohol that are substantially lower than those reported in association with the “gasping syndrome”, the minimum amount of benzyl alcohol at which toxicity may occur is not known. Premature and low-birth-weight infants, as well as patients receiving high dosages, may be more likely to develop toxicity. Practitioners administering this and other medications containing benzyl alcohol should consider the combined daily metabolic load of benzyl alcohol from all sources.
Premature neonates given doxapram have developed hypertension, irritability, jitteriness, hyperglycemia, glucosuria, abdominal distension, increased gastric residuals, vomiting, bloody stools, necrotizing enterocolitis, erratic limb movements, excessive crying, disturbed sleep, premature eruption of teeth, and QT prolongation that has resulted in heart block. In premature neonates with risk factors such as a previous seizure, perinatal asphyxia, or intracerebral hemorrhage, seizures have occurred. In many instances, doxapram was administered following administration of xanthine derivatives such as caffeine, aminophylline or theophylline.
Last reviewed on RxList: 5/5/2009
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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