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- Clinician Information:
Precedex Side Effects Center
Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Precedex (dexmedetomidine hydrochloride) is used for short-term intravenous sedation. It is an alpha2-adrenergic agonist with sedative properties. Common side effects include low blood pressure, slow heart rate, or dry mouth.
Precedex is only used in controlled settings and is administered intravenously (IV). Dosing of Precedex is individualized and adjusted to desired clinical response. It is not indicated for infusions lasting longer than 24 hours. Precedex may interact with anesthetics, sedatives, hypnotics, or opioids. Tell your doctor all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. During pregnancy, Precedex should only be used if prescribed. It is not known whether this medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding. Precedex may produce withdrawal symptoms if abruptly discontinued.
Our Precedex (dexmedetomidine hydrochloride) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What is Prescribing information?
The FDA package insert formatted in easy-to-find categories for health professionals and clinicians.
Precedex FDA Prescribing Information: Side Effects
Clinical Studies Experience
Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reactions rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.
Use of Precedex has been associated with the following serious adverse reactions:
- Hypotension, bradycardia and sinus arrest [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Transient hypertension [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
Most common treatment-emergent adverse reactions, occurring in greater than 2% of patients in both Intensive Care Unit and procedural sedation studies include hypotension, bradycardia and dry mouth.
Intensive Care Unit Sedation
Adverse reaction information is derived from the continuous infusion trials of Precedex for sedation in the Intensive Care Unit setting in which 1007 adult patients received Precedex. The mean total dose was 7.4 mcg/kg (range: 0.8 to 84.1), mean dose per hour was 0.5 mcg/kg/hr (range: 0.1 to 6.0) and the mean duration of infusion of 15.9 hours (range: 0.2 to 157.2). The population was between 17 to 88 years of age, 43% ≥ 65 years of age, 77% male and 93% Caucasian. Treatment-emergent adverse reactions occurring at an incidence of > 2% are provided in Table 2. The most frequent adverse reactions were hypotension, bradycardia and dry mouth [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Table 2: Adverse Reactions With an Incidence
> 2%-Adult Intensive Care Unit Sedation Population < 24 hours*
|Adverse Event||All Precedex
(N = 1007) (%)
(N = 798) (%)
(N = 400) (%)
(N = 188) (%)
|Urine output decreased||1%||1%||0||2%|
|Ventricular tachycardia||< 1%||1%||1%||5%|
|Edema peripheral||< 1%||0||1%||2%|
|* 26 subjects in the all Precedex group and 10 subjects in the randomized Precedex group had exposure for greater than 24 hours.|
Adverse reaction information was also derived from the placebo-controlled, continuous infusion trials of Precedex for sedation in the surgical intensive care unit setting in which 387 adult patients received Precedex for less than 24 hours. The most frequently observed treatment-emergent adverse events included hypotension, hypertension, nausea, bradycardia, fever, vomiting, hypoxia, tachycardia and anemia (see Table 3).
Table 3: Treatment-Emergent Adverse Events Occurring
in > 1% Of All Dexmedetomidine-Treated Adult Patients in the Randomized
Placebo-controlled Continuous Infusion < 24 Hours ICU Sedation Studies
|Adverse Event||Randomized Dexmedetomidine
(N = 387)
(N = 379)
In a controlled clinical trial, Precedex was compared to midazolam for ICU sedation exceeding 24 hours duration in adult patients. Key treatment emergent adverse events occurring in dexmedetomidine or midazolam treated patients in the randomized active comparator continuous infusion long-term intensive care unit sedation study are provided in Table 4. The number (%) of subjects who had a dose-related increase in treatment-emergent adverse events by maintenance adjusted dose rate range in the Precedex group is provided in Table 5.
Table 4: Key Treatment-Emergent Adverse Events
Occurring in Dexmedetomidine- or Midazolam-Treated Adult Patients in the
Randomized Active Comparator Continuous Infusion Long-Term Intensive Care Unit
|Hypotension requiring intervention||28%||27%|
|Bradycardia requiring intervention||5%||1%|
|Tachycardia requiring intervention||10%||10%|
|Hypertension requiring intervention†||19%||30%|
|Renal Failure Acute||2%||1%|
|Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome||2%||1%|
|† Includes any type of hypertension.
1Hypotension was defined in absolute terms as Systolic blood pressure of < 80 mmHg or Diastolic blood pressure of < 50 mmHg or in relative terms as < 30% lower than pre-study drug infusion value.
2Bradycardia was defined in absolute terms as < 40 bpm or in relative terms as < 30% lower than pre-study drug infusion value.
3Hypertension was defined in absolute terms as Systolic blood pressure > 180 mmHg or Diastolic blood pressure of > 100 mmHg or in relative terms as > 30% higher than pre-study drug infusion value.
4Tachycardia was defined in absolute terms as > 120 bpm or in relative terms as > 30% greater than pre-study drug infusion value.
The following adverse events occurred between 2 and 5% for Precedex and Midazolam, respectively: renal failure acute (2.5%, 0.8%), acute respiratory distress syndrome (2.5%, 0.8%), and respiratory failure (4.5%, 3.3%).
Table 5: Number (%) of adult subjects who had a
dose-related increase in Treatment Emergent Adverse Events by maintenance
adjusted dose rate range in the Precedex group
|Adverse Event||Precedex mcg/kg/hr|
| ≤ 0.7*
N = 95
| > 0.7 to ≤ 1.1*
N = 78
| > 1.1*
N = 71
|Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome||1%||3%||9%|
|*Average maintenance dose over the entire study drug administration|
Adverse reaction information is derived from the two trials for procedural sedation in which 318 adult patients received Precedex. The mean total dose was 1.6 mcg/kg (range: 0.5 to 6.7), mean dose per hour was 1.3 mcg/kg/hr (range: 0.3 to 6.1) and the mean duration of infusion of 1.5 hours (range: 0.1 to 6.2). The population was between 18 to 93 years of age, 30% ≥ 65 years of age, 52% male and 61% Caucasian.
Treatment-emergent adverse reactions occurring at an incidence of > 2% are provided in Table 6. The most frequent adverse reactions were hypotension, bradycardia, and dry mouth [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Pre-specified criteria for the vital signs to be reported as adverse reactions are footnoted below the table. The decrease in respiratory rate and hypoxia was similar between Precedex and comparator groups in both studies.
Table 6: Adverse Reactions With an Incidence >
2%-Procedural Sedation Population
N = 318 (%)
N = 113 (%)
|1Hypotension was defined in absolute and relative terms as
Systolic blood pressure of < 80 mmHg or < 30% lower than pre-study drug
infusion value, or Diastolic blood pressure of < 50 mmHg.
2Respiratory depression was defined in absolute and relative terms as respiratory rate (RR) < 8 beats per minute or > 25% decrease from baseline.
3Bradycardia was defined in absolute and relative terms as < 40 beats per minute or < 30% lower than pre-study drug infusion value.
4Hypertension was defined in absolute and relative terms as Systolic blood pressure > 180 mmHg or > 30% higher than pre-study drug infusion value or Diastolic blood pressure of > 100 mmHg.
5Tachycardia was defined in absolute and relative terms as > 120 beats per minute or > 30% greater than pre-study drug infusion value.
6Hypoxia was defined in absolute and relative terms as SpO2 < 90% or 10% decrease from baseline.
The following adverse reactions have been identified during post approval use of Precedex. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.
Hypotension and bradycardia were the most common adverse reactions associated with the use of Precedex during post approval use of the drug.
Table 7: Adverse Reactions Experienced During
Post-approval Use of Precedex
|Body System||Preferred Term|
|Body as a Whole||Fever, hyperpyrexia, hypovolemia, light anesthesia, pain, rigors|
|Cardiovascular Disorders, General||Blood pressure fluctuation, heart disorder, hypertension, hypotension, myocardial infarction|
|Central and Peripheral Nervous System Disorders||Dizziness, headache, neuralgia, neuritis, speech disorder, convulsion|
|Gastrointestinal System Disorders||Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea|
|Heart Rate and Rhythm Disorders||Arrhythmia, ventricular arrhythmia, bradycardia, hypoxia, atrioventricular block, cardiac arrest, extrasystoles, atrial fibrillation, heart block, t wave inversion, tachycardia, supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia|
|Liver and Biliary System Disorders||Increased gamma-glutamyl transpepsidase, hepatic function abnormal, hyperbilirubinemia, alanine transaminase, aspartate aminotransferase|
|Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders||Acidosis, respiratory acidosis, hyperkalemia, increased alkaline phosphatase, thirst, hypoglycemia|
|Psychiatric Disorders||Agitation, confusion, delirium, hallucination, illusion|
|Red Blood Cell Disorders||Anemia|
|Renal Disorders||Blood urea nitrogen increased, oliguria|
|Respiratory System Disorders||Apnea, bronchospasm, dyspnea, hypercapnia, hypoventilation, hypoxia, pulmonary congestion|
|Skin and Appendages Disorders||Increased sweating|
|Vision Disorders||Photopsia, abnormal vision|
Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Precedex (Dexmedetomidine hydrochloride) »
Additional Precedex Information
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