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Side Effects


Most adverse effects are mild and transient and occur early in the course of treatment. In controlled clinical trials of 3 to 4 months' duration, discontinuation of Trandate (labetalol) Tablets due to one or more adverse effects was required in 7% of all patients. In these same trials, other agents with solely beta-blocking activity used in the control groups led to discontinuation in 8% to 10% of patients, and a centrally acting alpha-agonist led to discontinuation in 30% of patients.

The incidence rates of adverse reactions listed in the following table were derived from multicenter, controlled clinical trials comparing labetalol HCl, placebo, metoprolol, and propranolol over treatment periods of 3 and 4 months. Where the frequency of adverse effects for labetalol HCl and placebo is similar, causal relationship is uncertain. The rates are based on adverse reactions considered probably drug related by the investigator. If all reports are considered, the rates are somewhat higher (e.g., dizziness, 20%; nausea, 14%; fatigue, 11%), but the overall conclusions are unchanged.

  Labetalol HCI
(n = 227)
(n = 98)
(n = 84)
(n = 49)
Body as a whole
  Fatigue 5 0 12 12
  Asthenia 1 1 1 0
  Headache 2 1 1 2
  Nausea 6 1 1 2
  Vomiting <1 0 0 0
  Dyspepsia 3 1 1 0
  Abdominal pain 0 0 1 2
  Diarrhea <1 0 2 0
  Taste distortion 1 0 0 0
Central and peripheral nervous systems
  Dizziness 11 3 4 4
  Paresthesia <1 0 0 0
  Drowsiness <1 2 2 2
Autonomic nervous system
  Nasal stuffiness 3 0 0 0
  Ejaculation failure 2 0 0 0
  Impotence 1 0 1 3
  Increased sweating <1 0 0 0
  Edema 1 0 0 0
  Postural hypotension 1 0 0 0
  Bradycardia 0 0 5 12
  Dyspnea 2 0 1 2
  Rash 1 0 0 0
Special senses
  Vision abnormality 1 0 0 0
  Vertigo 2 1 0 0

The adverse effects were reported spontaneously and are representative of the incidence of adverse effects that may be observed in a properly selected hypertensive patient population, i.e., a group excluding patients with bronchospastic disease, overt congestive heart failure, or other contraindications to beta-blocker therapy.

Clinical trials also included studies utilizing daily doses up to 2,400 mg in more severely hypertensive patients. Certain of the side effects increased with increasing dose, as shown in the following table that depicts the entire US therapeutic trials data base for adverse reactions that are clearly or possibly dose related.

Labetalol HCl Daily Dose (mg) 200 300 400 600 800 900 1,200 1,600 2,400
Number of patients 522 181 606 608 503 117 411 242 175
Dizziness (%) 2 3 3 3 5 1 9 13 16
Fatigue 2 1 4 4 5 3 7 6 10
Nausea < 1 0 1 2 4 0 7 11 19
Vomiting 0 0 < 1 < 1 < 1 0 1 2 3
Dyspepsia 1 0 2 1 1 0 2 2 4
Paresthesia 2 0 2 2 1 1 2 5 5
Nasal stuffiness 1 1 2 2 2 2 4 5 6
Ejaculation failure 0 2 1 2 3 0 4 3 5
Impotence 1 1 1 1 2 4 3 4 3
Edema 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 2 2

In addition, a number of other less common adverse events have been reported:

Body as a Whole: Fever.

Cardiovascular: Hypotension, and rarely, syncope, bradycardia, heart block.

Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems: Paresthesia, most frequently described as scalp tingling. In most cases, it was mild and transient and usually occurred at the beginning of treatment.

Collagen Disorders: Systemic lupus erythematosus, positive antinuclear factor.

Eyes: Dry eyes.

Immunological System: Antimitochondrial antibodies.

Liver and Biliary System: Hepatic necrosis, hepatitis, cholestatic jaundice, elevated liver function tests.

Musculoskeletal System: Muscle cramps, toxic myopathy.

Respiratory System: Bronchospasm.

Skin and Appendages: Rashes of various types, such as generalized maculopapular, lichenoid, urticarial, bullous lichen planus, psoriaform, and facial erythema; Peyronie's disease; reversible alopecia.

Urinary System: Difficulty in micturition, including acute urinary bladder retention.

Hypersensitivity: Rare reports of hypersensitivity (e.g., rash, urticaria, pruritus, angioedema, dyspnea) and anaphylactoid reactions.

Following approval for marketing in the United Kingdom, a monitored release survey involving approximately 6,800 patients was conducted for further safety and efficacy evaluation of this product. Results of this survey indicate that the type, severity, and incidence of adverse effects were comparable to those cited above.

Potential Adverse Effects

In addition, other adverse effects not listed above have been reported with other beta-adrenergic blocking agents.

Central Nervous System

Reversible mental depression progressing to catatonia, an acute reversible syndrome characterized by disorientation for time and place, short-term memory loss, emotional lability, slightly clouded sensorium, and decreased performance on psychometrics.


Intensification of A-V block (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).


Fever combined with aching and sore throat, laryngospasm, respiratory distress.


Agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenic or nonthrombocytopenic purpura.


Mesenteric artery thrombosis, ischemic colitis.

The oculomucocutaneous syndrome associated with the beta-blocker practolol has not been reported with labetalol HCl.

Clinical Laboratory Tests

There have been reversible increases of serum transaminases in 4% of patients treated with labetalol HCl and tested and, more rarely, reversible increases in blood urea.

Read the Trandate (labetalol) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects


In one survey, 2.3% of patients taking labetalol HCl in combination with tricyclic antidepressants experienced tremor, as compared to 0.7% reported to occur with labetalol HCl alone. The contribution of each of the treatments to this adverse reaction is unknown, but the possibility of a drug interaction cannot be excluded.

Drugs possessing beta-blocking properties can blunt the bronchodilator effect of beta-receptor agonist drugs in patients with bronchospasm; therefore, doses greater than the normal antiasthmatic dose of beta-agonist bronchodilator drugs may be required.

Cimetidine has been shown to increase the bioavailability of labetalol HCl. Since this could be explained either by enhanced absorption or by an alteration of hepatic metabolism of labetalol HCl, special care should be used in establishing the dose required for blood pressure control in such patients.

Synergism has been shown between halothane anesthesia and intravenously administered labetalol HCl. During controlled hypotensive anesthesia using labetalol HCl in association with halothane, high concentrations (3% or above) of halothane should not be used because the degree of hypotension will be increased and because of the possibility of a large reduction in cardiac output and an increase in central venous pressure. The anesthesiologist should be informed when a patient is receiving labetalol HCl.

Labetalol HCl blunts the reflex tachycardia produced by nitroglycerin without preventing its hypotensive effect. If labetalol HCl is used with nitroglycerin in patients with angina pectoris, additional antihypertensive effects may occur.

Care should be taken if labetalol is used concomitantly with calcium antagonists of the verapamil type.

Both digitalis glycosides and beta-blockers slow atrioventricular conduction and decrease heart rate. Concomitant use can increase the risk of bradycardia.

Risk of Anaphylactic Reaction

While taking beta-blockers, patients with a history of severe anaphylactic reaction to a variety of allergens may be more reactive to repeated challenge, either accidental, diagnostic, or therapeutic. Such patients may be unresponsive to the usual doses of epinephrine used to treat allergic reaction.

Drug/Laboratory Test Interactions

The presence of labetalol metabolites in the urine may result in falsely elevated levels of urinary catecholamines, metanephrine, normetanephrine, and vanillylmandelic acid when measured by fluorimetric or photometric methods. In screening patients suspected of having a pheochromocytoma and being treated with labetalol HCl, a specific method, such as a high performance liquid chromatographic assay with solid phase extraction (e.g., J Chromatogr 385:241,1987) should be employed in determining levels of catecholamines.

Labetalol HCl has also been reported to produce a false-positive test for amphetamine when screening urine for the presence of drugs using the commercially available assay methods TOXI-LAB® A (thinlayer chromatographic assay) and EMIT-d.a.u.® (radioenzymatic assay). When patients being treated with labetalol have a positive urine test for amphetamine using these techniques, confirmation should be made by using more specific methods, such as a gas chromatographic-mass spectrometer technique.

Read the Trandate Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions

Last reviewed on RxList: 1/3/2011
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Side Effects

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