Adrenalin (Page 3 of 4)

8.4 Pediatric Use

Clinical use data support weight-based dosing for treatment of anaphylaxis in pediatric patients, and other reported clinical experience with the use of epinephrine suggests that the adverse reactions seen in children are similar in nature and extent to those both expected and reported in adults.

Safety and effectiveness of epinephrine in pediatric patients with septic shock have not been established.

8.5 Geriatric Use

Clinical studies for the treatment of anaphylaxis have not been performed in subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. However, other reported clinical experience with use of epinephrine for the treatment of anaphylaxis has identified that geriatric patients may be particularly sensitive to the effects of epinephrine. Therefore, for the treatment of anaphylaxis, consider starting with a lower dose to take into account potential concomitant disease or other drug therapy.

Clinical studies of epinephrine for the treatment of hypotension associated with septic shock did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.


Overdosage of epinephrine may produce extremely elevated arterial pressure, which may result in cerebrovascular hemorrhage, particularly in elderly patients. Overdosage may also result in pulmonary edema because of peripheral vascular constriction together with cardiac stimulation. Epinephrine overdosage can also cause transient bradycardia followed by tachycardia and these may be accompanied by potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias. Premature ventricular contractions may appear within one minute after injection and may be followed by multifocal ventricular tachycardia (prefibrillation rhythm). Subsidence of the ventricular effects may be followed by atrial tachycardia and occasionally by atrioventricular block. Myocardial ischemia and infarction, cardiomyopathy, extreme pallor and coldness of the skin, metabolic acidosis due to elevated blood lactic acid levels, and renal insufficiency have also been reported.

Epinephrine is rapidly inactivated in the body and treatment following overdose with epinephrine is primarily supportive. Treatment of pulmonary edema consists of a rapidly acting alpha-adrenergic blocking drug (such as phentolamine mesylate) and respiratory support. Treatment of arrhythmias consists of administration of a beta-adrenergic blocking drug (such as propranolol). If necessary, pressor effects may be counteracted by rapidly acting vasodilators or α-adrenergic blocking drugs. If prolonged hypotension follows such measures, it may be necessary to administer another pressor drug.


Adrenalin (epinephrine injection, USP) is a clear, colorless, sterile solution containing 1 mg/mL epinephrine, packaged as 30 mL of solution in a multiple dose amber glass vial. In the 30 mL vial, each 1 mL of Adrenalin solution contains 1 mg epinephrine, 6.15 mg sodium chloride, 0.457 mg sodium metabisulfite, 0.920 mg sodium hydroxide, 2.25 mg tartaric acid, 0.20 mg disodium edetate dihydrate, hydrochloric acid to adjust pH, 5.25 mg chlorobutanol as a preservative and water for injection. The pH range is 2.2-5.0.

Epinephrine is a sympathomimetic catecholamine. The chemical name of epinephrine is: 1,2-Benzenediol, 4-[(1R)-1-hydroxy-2-(methylamino)ethyl]-, or (-)-3,4-Dihydroxy-α-[2-(methylamino)ethyl]benzyl alcohol.

The chemical structure of epinephrine is:

Chemical Structure
(click image for full-size original)

Image 1

The molecular weight of epinephrine is 183.2.

Epinephrine solution deteriorates rapidly on exposure to air or light, turning pink from oxidation to adrenochrome and brown from the formation of melanin.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Epinephrine acts on both alpha and beta-adrenergic receptors. The mechanism of the rise in blood pressure is 3-fold: a direct myocardial stimulation that increases the strength of ventricular contraction (positive inotropic action), an increased heart rate (positive chronotropic action), and peripheral vasoconstriction.

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

Epinephrine increases glycogenolysis, reduces glucose up take by tissues, and inhibits insulin release in the pancreas, resulting in hyperglycemia and increased blood lactic acid.

Intramuscular and subcutaneous use for anaphylaxis

Through its action on alpha-adrenergic receptors, epinephrine lessens the vasodilation and increased vascular permeability that occurs during anaphylaxis, which can lead to loss of intravascular fluid volume and hypotension.

Through its action on beta-adrenergic receptors, epinephrine causes bronchial smooth muscle relaxation and helps alleviate bronchospasm, wheezing and dyspnea that may occur during anaphylaxis.

Epinephrine also alleviates pruritus, urticaria, and angioedema and may relieve gastrointestinal and genitourinary symptoms associated with anaphylaxis because of its relaxer effects on the smooth muscle of the stomach, intestine, uterus and urinary bladder.

Intravenous use for hypotension associated with septic shock

When administered parenterally, epinephrine has a rapid onset and short duration of action.

Following intravenous administration of epinephrine, increases in systolic blood pressure and heart rate are observed. Decreases in systemic vascular resistance and diastolic blood pressure are observed at low doses of epinephrine because of β2-mediated vasodilation, but are overtaken by α1-mediated peripheral vasoconstriction at higher doses leading to increase in diastolic blood pressure. The onset of blood pressure increase following an intravenous dose of epinephrine is < 5 minutes and the time to offset blood pressure response occurs within 15 minutes. Most vascular beds are constricted including renal, splanchnic, mucosal and skin.

Epinephrine causes mydriasis when administered parenterally.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics

Following intravenous injection, epinephrine is rapidly cleared from the plasma with an effective half-life of < 5 minutes. A pharmacokinetic steady state following continuous intravenous infusion is achieved within 10‑15 minutes. In patients with septic shock, epinephrine displays dose-proportional pharmacokinetics in the infusion dose range of 0.03 to 1.7 mcg/kg/min.

Epinephrine is extensively metabolized with only a small amount excreted unchanged.

Epinephrine is rapidly degraded to vanillylmandelic acid, an inactive metabolite, by monoamine oxidase and catechol-O-methyltransferase that are abundantly expressed in the liver, kidneys and other extraneuronal tissues. The tissues with the highest contribution to removal of circulating exogenous epinephrine are the liver (32%), kidneys (25%), skeletal muscle (20%), and mesenteric organs (12%).

Specific Populations


In a pharmacokinetic study of 45-minute epinephrine infusions given to healthy men aged 20 to 25 years and healthy men aged 60 to 65 years, the mean plasma metabolic clearance rate of epinephrine at steady state was greater among the older men (144.8 versus 78 mL/kg/min for a 0.0143 mcg/kg/min infusion).

Body Weight

Body weight has been found to influence epinephrine pharmacokinetics. Higher body weight was associated with a higher plasma epinephrine clearance and a lower concentration plateau.


13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Long-term studies to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of epinephrine have not been conducted.

Epinephrine and other catecholamines have been shown to have mutagenic potential in vitro. Epinephrine was positive in the Salmonella bacterial reverse mutation assay, positive in the mouse lymphoma assay, and negative in the in vivo micronucleus assay. Epinephrine is an oxidative mutagen based on the E. coli WP2 Mutoxitest bacterial reverse mutation assay. This should not prevent the use of epinephrine under the conditions noted under Indications and Usage (1).

The potential for epinephrine to impair reproductive performance has not been evaluated, but epinephrine has been shown to decrease implantation in female rabbits dosed subcutaneously with 1.2 mg/kg/day (15-fold the highest human intramuscular or subcutaneous daily dose) during gestation days 3 to 9.

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