Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP Last updated on RxList: 12/7/2022
Drug Description

What is Papaverine and how is it used?

Papaverine is a prescription medicine used to treat the symptoms of Arterial Spasm. Papaverine may be used alone or with other medications.

Papaverine belongs to a class of drugs called Vasodilators.

It is not known if Papaverine is safe and effective in children.

What are the possible side effects of Papaverine?

Papaverine may cause serious side effects including:

  • hives,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat,
  • upper stomach pain,
  • loss of appetite,
  • dark urine,
  • clay-colored stools,
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice),
  • skin rash,
  • bruising,
  • severe tingling,
  • numbness,
  • pain,
  • muscle weakness,
  • severe headache,
  • blurred vision,
  • fast heart rate,
  • pounding in your neck or ears,
  • anxiety,
  • shortness of breath,
  • extreme drowsiness,
  • vision changes, and
  • pain, swelling, or redness where the medicine was injected

Get medical help right away, if you have any of the symptoms listed above.

The most common side effects of Papaverine include:

  • nausea,
  • upset stomach,
  • loss of appetite,
  • constipation,
  • diarrhea,
  • general ill feeling,
  • headache,
  • drowsiness,
  • dizziness,
  • spinning sensation,
  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling),
  • skin rash,
  • increased sweating,
  • tiredness, and
  • lack of energy

Tell the doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of Papaverine. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Papaverine hydrochloride, C20H21NO4•HCl, is a white, crystalline powder, odorless, with a slight bitter taste and is soluble in water.

Each capsule contains: papaverine hydrochloride USP 150 mg.

Chemically, it is Isoquinoline,1-[(3,4-dimethoxyphenyl)methyl]-6,7-dimethoxy-, hydrochloride. It has a molecular weight of 375.85. It has the following structural formula:

Papaverine Hydrochloride Structural Formula Illustration

Manufactured in a special base which is designed for prolonged release. Each capsule also contains the following inactive ingredients: FD&C blue No. 1, FD&C red No. 40, gelatin, pharmaceutical glaze, povidone, silicon dioxide, sodium lauryl sulfate, corn starch, sucrose and talc.

Indications & Dosage


For the relief of cerebral and peripheral ischemia associated with arterial spasm and myocardial ischemia complicated by arrhythmias.


One capsule every 12 hours. In difficult cases administration may be increased to one capsule every 8 hours or two capsules every 12 hours.


Papaverine Hydrochloride Sustained Release Capsules are supplied as: 150 mg brown and clear capsules, imprinted E 5156 and are available in bottles of 100, 500 and 1000.


Store at 20° to 25°C (68° to 77°F) [see USP Controlled Room Temperature].

Protect from moisture.

To report SUSPECTED ADVERSE REACTIONS, contact Sandoz Inc. at 1-800-525-8747 or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or

Manufactured for: Sandoz Inc. Princeton, NJ 08540. Manufactured by: Epic Pharma, LLC. Laurelton, NY 11413. Rev. 11/08.


In the U.S., 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease. See Answer
Side Effects & Drug Interactions


Although occurring rarely, the reported side effects of papaverine include nausea, abdominal distress, anorexia, constipation, malaise, drowsiness, vertigo, sweating, headache, diarrhea, skin rash, flushing of face, increase in heart rate and depth of respiration and slight increase in blood pressure.


No information provided.

Warnings & Precautions


No information provided.


Use with caution in patients with glaucoma. Hepatic hypersensitivity has been reported with gastrointestinal symptoms, jaundice, eosinophilia and altered liver function tests. Discontinue drug if these occur.

Overdose & Contraindications


No information provided.


Large doses can depress atrioventricular and intraventricular conduction and thereby produce serious arrhythmias.

Clinical Pharmacology


The main actions of papaverine are exerted on cardiac and smooth muscle. Like quinidine, papaverine acts directly on the heart muscle to depress conduction and prolong the refractory period. Papaverine relaxes various smooth muscles. This relaxation may be prominent if spasm exists. The muscle cell is not paralyzed by papaverine and still responds to drugs and other stimuli causing contraction. The antispasmodic effect is a direct one and unrelated to muscle innervation. Papaverine is practically devoid of effects on the central nervous system.

Papaverine relaxes the smooth musculature of the large blood vessels, especially coronary, systemic peripheral and pulmonary arteries. Perhaps by its direct vasodilating action on cerebral blood vessels, papaverine increases cerebral blood flow and decreases cerebral vascular resistance in normal subjects; oxygen consumption is unaltered. These effects may explain the benefit reported from the drug in cerebral vascular encephalopathy.

The direct actions of papaverine on the heart to depress conduction and irritability and to prolong the refractory period of the myocardium provide the basis for its clinical trial in abrogating atrial and ventricular premature systoles and ominous ventricular arrhythmias. The coronary vasodilator action could be an additional factor of therapeutic value when such rhythms are secondary to insufficiency or occlusion of the coronary arteries.

In patients with acute coronary thrombosis, the occurrence of ventricular cardiac arrhythmias is serious and requires measures designed to decrease myocardial irritability. Papaverine may have advantages over quinidine used for a similar purpose, in that it may be given in an emergency by the intravenous route, does not depress myocardial contraction or cause cinchonism and produces coronary vasodilation.

Medication Guide


No information provided. Please refer to the PRECAUTIONS sections.

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors