July 29, 2016
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Theophylline in 5% Dextrose Injection Flexible Plastic Container

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Theophylline 5% Dextrose Injection Flexible

How Supplied


Intravenous theophylline is indicated as an adjunct to inhaled beta-2 selective agonists and systemically administered corticosteroids for the treatment of acute exacerbations of the symptoms and reversible airflow obstruction associated with asthma and other chronic lung diseases, e.g., emphysema and chronic bronchitis.


General Considerations

The steady-state serum theophylline concentration is a function of the infusion rate and the rate of theophylline clearance in the individual patient. Because of marked individual differences in the rate of theophylline clearance, the dose required to achieve a serum theophylline concentration in the 10-20 mcg/mL range varies fourfold among otherwise similar patients in the absence of factors known to alter theophylline clearance. For a given population there is no single theophylline dose that will provide both safe and effective serum concentrations for all patients. Administration of the median theophylline dose required to achieve a therapeutic serum theophylline concentration in a given population may result in either subtherapeutic or potentially toxic serum theophylline concentrations in individual patients. The dose of theophylline must be individualized on the basis of serum theophylline concentration measurements in order to achieve a dose that will provide maximum potential benefit with minimal risk of adverse effects.

When theophylline is used as an acute bronchodilator, the goal of obtaining a therapeutic serum concentration is best accomplished with an intravenous loading dose. Because of rapid distribution into body fluids, the serum concentration (C) obtained from an initial loading dose (LD) is related primarily to the volume of distribution (V), the apparent space into which the drug diffuses:

C = LD/V

If a mean volume of distribution of about 0.5 L/kg is assumed (actual range is 0.3 to 0.7 L/kg), each mg/kg (ideal body weight) of theophylline administered as a loading dose over 30 minutes results in an average 2 mcg/mL increase in serum theophylline concentration. Therefore, in a patient who has received no theophylline in the previous 24 hours, a loading dose of intravenous theophylline of 4.6 mg/kg, calculated on the basis of ideal body weight and administered over 30 minutes, on average, will produce a maximum post-distribution serum concentration of 10 mcg/mL with a range of 6-16 mcg/mL. When a loading dose becomes necessary in the patient who has already received theophylline, estimation of the serum concentration based upon the history is unreliable, and an immediate serum level determination is indicated. The loading dose can then be determined as follows:

D = (Desired C - Measured C) (V)

where D is the loading dose, C is the serum theophylline concentration, and V is the volume of distribution. The mean volume of distribution can be assumed to be 0.5 L/kg and the desired serum concentration should be conservative (e.g., 10 mcg/mL) to allow for the variability in the volume of distribution. A loading dose should not be given before obtaining a serum theophylline concentration if the patient has received any theophylline in the previous 24 hours.

A serum concentration obtained 30 minutes after an intravenous loading dose, when distribution is complete, can be used to assess the need for and size of subsequent loading doses, if clinically indicated, and for guidance of continuing therapy. Once a serum concentration of 10 to 15 mcg/mL has been achieved with the use of a loading dose(s), a constant intravenous infusion is started. The rate of administration is based upon mean pharmacokinetic parameters for the population and calculated to achieve a target serum concentration of 10 mcg/mL (see Table V). For example, in nonsmoking adults, initiation of a constant intravenous theophylline infusion of 0.4 mg/kg/hr at the completion of the loading dose, on average, will result in a steady-state concentration of 10 mcg/ mL with a range of 7-26 mcg/mL. The mean and range of steady-state serum concentrations are similar when the average pediatric patient (age 1 to 9 years) is given a loading dose of 4.6 mg/kg theophylline followed by a constant intravenous infusion of 0.8 mg/ kg/hr. Since there is large interpatient variability in theophylline clearance, serum concentrations will rise or fall when the patient's clearance is significantly different from the mean population value used to calculate the initial infusion rate. Therefore, a second serum concentration should be obtained one expected half life after starting the constant infusion (e.g., approximately 4 hours for children age 1 to 9 and 8 hours for nonsmoking adults: See Table I for the expected half life in additional patient populations) to determine if the concentration is accumulating or declining from the post loading dose level. If the level is declining as a result of a higher than average clearance, an additional loading dose can be administered and/or the infusion rate increased. In contrast, if the second sample demonstrates a higher level, accumulation of the drug can be assumed, and the infusion rate should be decreased before the concentration exceeds 20 mcg/mL. An additional sample is obtained 12 to 24 hours later to determine if further adjustments are required and then at 24-hour intervals to adjust for changes, if they occur. This empiric method, based upon mean pharmacokinetic parameters, will prevent large fluctuations in serum concentration during the most critical period of the patient's course.

In patients with cor pulmonale, cardiac decompensation, or liver dysfunction, or in those taking drugs that markedly reduce theophylline clearance (e.g., cimetidine), the initial theophylline infusion rate should not exceed 17 mg/hr unless serum concentrations can be monitored at 24-hour intervals. In these patients, 5 days may be required before steady-state is reached.

Theophylline distributes poorly into body fat, therefore, mg/kg dose should be calculated on the basis of ideal body weight. Table V contains initial theophylline infusion rates following an appropriate loading dose recommended for patients in various age groups and clinical circumstances. Table VI contains recommendations for final theophylline dosage adjustment based upon serum theophylline concentrations. Application of these general dosing recommendations to individual patients must take into account the unique clinical characteristics of each patient. In general, these recommendations should serve as the upper limit for dosage adjustments in order to decrease the risk of potentially serious adverse events associated with unexpected large increases in serum theophylline concentration.

Table V. Initial theophylline infusion rates following an appropriate loading dose.

Patient population Age Theophylline infusion rate (mg/kg/hr)* †
Neonates Postnatal age up to 24 days 1 mg/kg q12h/‡
Postnatal age beyond 24 days 1.5 mg/kg q12h/‡
Infants 6-52 weeks old mg/kg/hr = (0.008)(age in weeks) + 0.21
Young pediatric patients 1-9 years 0.8
Older pediatric patients 9-12 years 0.7
Adolescents (cigarette or marijuana smokers) 12-16 years 0.7
Adolescents (nonsmokers) 12-16 years 0.5 §
Adults (otherwise healthy nonsmokers) 16-60 years 0.4 §
Elderly > 60 years 0.3 ¶
Cardiac decompensation, cor pulmonale, liver dysfunction, sepsis with multi-organ failure, or shock   0.2 ¶
* To achieve a target concentration of 10 mcg/mL. Aminophylline = theophylline/0.8. Use ideal body weight for obese patients.
† Lower initial dosage may be required for patients receiving other drugs that decrease theophylline clearance (e.g., cimetidine).
‡ To achieve a target concentration of 7.5 mcg/mL for neonatal apnea.
§ Not to exceed 900 mg/day, unless serum levels indicate the need for a larger dose.
¶ Not to exceed 400 mg/day, unless serum levels indicate the need for a larger dose.

Table VI. Final dosage adjustment guided by serum theophylline concentration.

Peak Serum Concentration Dosage Adjustment
< 9.9 mcg/mL If symptoms are not controlled and current dosage is tolerated, increase infusion rate about 25%. Recheck serum concentration after 12 hours in pediatric patients and 24 hours in adults for further dosage adjustment.
10 to 14.9 mcg/mL If symptoms are controlled and current dosage is tolerated, maintain infusion rate and recheck serum concentration at 24 hour intervals.¶ If symptoms are not controlled and current dosage is tolerated, consider adding additional medication(s) to treatment regimen.
15-19.9 mcg/mL Consider 10% decrease in infusion rate to provide greater margin of safety even if current dosage is tolerated.¶
20-24.9 mcg/mL Decrease infusion rate by 25% even if no adverse effects are present. Recheck serum concentration after 12 hours in pediatric patients and 24 hours in adults to guide further dosage adjustment.
25-30 mcg/mL Stop infusion for 12 hours in pediatric patients and 24 hours in adults and decrease subsequent infusion rate at least 25% even if no adverse effects are present. Recheck serum concentration after 12 hours in pediatric patients and 24 hours in adults to guide further dosage adjustment. If symptomatic, stop infusion and consider whether overdose treatment is indicated (see recommendations for chronic OVERDOSAGE).
> 30 mcg/mL Stop the infusion and treat overdose as indicated (see recommendations for chronic OVERDOSAGE). If theophylline is subsequently resumed, decrease infusion rate by at least 50% and recheck serum concentration after 12 hours in pediatric patients and 24 hours in adults to guide further dosage adjustment.
¶ Dose reduction and/or serum theophylline concentration measurement is indicated whenever adverse effects are present, physiologic abnormalities that can reduce theophylline clearance occur (e.g., sustained fever), or a drug that interacts with theophylline is added or discontinued (see WARNINGS).

Preparation for Administration (Use aseptic technique)

  1. Close flow control clamp of administration set.
  2. Remove cover from outlet port at bottom of container.
  3. Insert piercing pin of administration set into port with a twisting motion until the set is firmly seated. NOTE: See full directions on administration set carton.
  4. Suspend container from hanger.
  5. Squeeze and release drip chamber to establish proper fluid level in chamber.
  6. Open flow control clamp and clear air from set. Close clamp.
  7. Attach set to venipuncture device. If device is not indwelling, prime and make venipuncture.
  8. Regulate rate of administration with flow control clamp.



Theophylline 200, 400 and 800 mg in 5% Dextrose Injection, USP is supplied in single-dose containers in various sizes and concentrations as shown in the accompanying Table.

NDC No. Product Theophylline per 100 mL Dextrose
per 100
per mL
Theophylline 800 mg
in 5%
Inj., USP
80 mg 5 g 0.8 mg 4.3
257         X
0409-7665-03 Theophylline 400mg in 5% Dextrose Inj., USP 80 mg 5 g 0.8 mg 4.3
257       X  
0409-7666-03 Theophylline 800 mg in 5% Dextrose Inj., USP 160 mg 5 g 1.6 mg 4.3
261       X  
0409-7666-62 Theophylline 400 mg in 5% Dextrose Inj., USP 160 mg 5 g 1.6 mg 4.3
261     X    
Theophylline 200 mg in 5% Dextrose Inj., USP 200mg 5g 2mg 4.3
(3.5 - 6.5)
263   X      
Theophylline 800 mg in 5% Dextrose Inj., USP 320mg 5g 3.2mg 4.3
(3.5 - 6.5)
270     X    
Theophylline 200 mg in 5% Dextrose Inj., USP 400mg 5g 4mg 4.3
(3.5 - 6.5)
275 X        

Protect from freezing. Store at 20 to 25°C (68 to 77°F). [See USP Controlled Room Temperature.]

Revised: March, 2008. Hospira, Inc., Lake Forest, IL 60045 USA. FDA revision date: 10/17/2008

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 2/13/2009

How Supplied

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