Common adverse reactions to systemically administered epinephrine include anxiety, apprehensiveness, restlessness, tremor, weakness, dizziness, sweating, palpitations, pallor, nausea and vomiting, headache, and respiratory difficulties. These symptoms occur in some persons receiving therapeutic doses of epinephrine, but are more likely to occur in patients with heart disease, hypertension, or hyperthyroidism [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7)].
The true incidence of adverse reactions associated with the systemic use of epinephrine is difficult to determine. Adverse reactions reported in observational trials, case reports, and studies are listed below by body system:
Cardiovascular: angina, arrhythmias, hypertension, pallor, palpitations, tachyarrhythmia, tachycardia, vasoconstriction, ventricular ectopy and stress cardiomyopathy.
Rapid rises in blood pressure associated with epinephrine use have produced cerebral hemorrhage, particularly in elderly patients with cardiovascular disease [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7)].
Neurological: disorientation, impaired memory, panic, psychomotor agitation, sleepiness, tingling.
Psychiatric: anxiety, apprehensiveness, restlessness.
Patients with Parkinson’s disease may experience psychomotor agitation or a temporary worsening of symptoms [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7)].
Diabetic patients may experience transient increases in blood sugar.
Injection into the buttock has resulted in cases of gas gangrene [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].
Rare cases of serious skin and soft tissue infections, including necrotizing fasciitis and myonecrosis caused by Clostridia (gas gangrene), have been reported following epinephrine injection in the thigh [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].
α-blockers, such as phentolamine
Vasodilators, such as nitrates
β-blockers, such as propranolol
Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors
Catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) inhibitors, such as entacapone
- β-blockers, such as propranolol
- Cyclopropane or halogenated hydrocarbon anesthetics, such as halothane
- Thyroid hormones
- Cardiac glycosides, such as digitalis glycosides
Potassium depleting diuretics
Prolonged experience with epinephrine use in pregnant women over several decades, based on published literature, do not identify a drug associated risk of major birth defects, miscarriage or adverse maternal or fetal outcomes. However, there are risks to the mother and fetus associated with epinephrine use during labor or delivery (see Clinical Considerations). In animal reproduction studies, epinephrine administered by the subcutaneous route to pregnant rabbits, mice, and hamsters, during the period of organogenesis, resulted in adverse developmental effects (including gastroschisis, and embryonic lethality, and delayed skeletal ossification) at doses approximately 2 times the maximum recommended daily intramuscular, subcutaneous, or intravenous dose (see Data).
The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population is unknown. All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defect, loss, or other adverse outcomes. In the United States general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2 to 4% and 15 to 20%, respectively.
Disease-associated maternal and/or embryo/fetal risk
During pregnancy, anaphylaxis can be catastrophic and can lead to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and permanent central nervous system damage or death in the mother and, more commonly, in the fetus or neonate. The prevalence of anaphylaxis occurring during pregnancy is reported to be approximately 3 cases per 100,000 deliveries.
Management of anaphylaxis during pregnancy is similar to management in the general population. Epinephrine is the first line-medication of choice for treatment of anaphylaxis; it should be used in the same manner in pregnant and non-pregnant patients. In conjunction with the administration of epinephrine, the patient should seek immediate medical or hospital care.
Hypotension associated with septic shock is a medical emergency in pregnancy which can be fatal if left untreated. Delaying treatment in pregnant women with hypotension associated with septic shock may increase the risk of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Life-sustaining therapy for the pregnant woman should not be withheld due to potential concerns regarding the effects of epinephrine on the fetus.
Labor or Delivery
Epinephrine usually inhibits spontaneous or oxytocin induced contractions of the pregnant human uterus and may delay the second stage of labor. Avoid epinephrine during the second stage of labor. In dosage sufficient to reduce uterine contractions, the drug may cause a prolonged period of uterine atony with hemorrhage. Avoid epinephrine in obstetrics when maternal blood pressure exceeds 130/80 mmHg.
Although epinephrine may improve maternal hypotension associated with septic shock and anaphylaxis, it may result in uterine vasoconstriction, decreased uterine blood flow, and fetal anoxia.
In an embryofetal development study with pregnant rabbits dosed during the period of organogenesis (on days 3 to 5, 6 to 7 or 7 to 9 of gestation), epinephrine caused teratogenic effects (including gastroschisis) at doses approximately 15 times the maximum recommended intramuscular, subcutaneous, or intravenous dose (on a mg/m2 basis at a maternal subcutaneous dose of 1.2 mg/kg/day for two to three days). Animals treated on days 6 to 7 had decreased number of implantations.
In an embryofetal development study, pregnant mice were administered epinephrine (0.1 to 10 mg/kg/day) on Gestation Days 6 to 15. Teratogenic effects, embryonic lethality, and delays in skeletal ossification were observed at approximately 3 times the maximum recommended intramuscular, subcutaneous, or intravenous dose (on a mg/m2 basis at maternal subcutaneous dose of 1 mg/kg/day for 10 days). These effects were not seen in mice at approximately 2 times the maximum recommended daily intramuscular or subcutaneous dose (on a mg/m2 basis at a subcutaneous maternal dose of 0.5 mg/kg/day for 10 days).
In an embryofetal development study with pregnant hamsters dosed during the period of organogenesis from gestation days 7 to 10, epinephrine produced reductions in litter size and delayed skeletal ossification at doses approximately 2 times the maximum recommended intramuscular, subcutaneous, or intravenous dose (on a mg/m2 basis at a maternal subcutaneous dose of 0.5 mg/kg/day).
There is no information regarding the presence of epinephrine in human milk or the effects of epinephrine on the breastfed infant or on milk production. However, due to its poor oral bioavailability and short half-life, epinephrine exposure is expected to be very low in the breastfed infant.
Epinephrine is the first-line medication of choice for treatment of anaphylaxis; it should be used in the same manner for anaphylaxis in breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding patients.
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