Cyanokit (Page 4 of 5)

12.3 Pharmacokinetics

Following intravenous administration of hydroxocobalamin significant binding to plasma proteins and low molecular weight physiological compounds occurs, forming various cobalamin-(III) complexes by replacing the hydroxo ligand. The low molecular weight cobalamins-(III) formed, including hydroxocobalamin, are termed “free cobalamins-(III)”; the sum of free and protein-bound cobalamins is termed “total cobalamins-(III)”. In order to reflect the exposure to the sum of all derivatives, pharmacokinetics of cobalamins-(III) (i.e., cobalamin-(III) entity without specific ligand) were investigated instead of hydroxocobalamin alone, using the concentration unit μg eq/mL.

Dose-proportional pharmacokinetics was observed following single dose intravenous administration of 2.5 to 10 g of hydroxocobalamin in healthy volunteers. Mean free and total cobalamins-(III) Cmax values of 113 and 579 μg eq/mL, respectively, were determined following a dose of 5 g of hydroxocobalamin. Similarly, mean free and total cobalamins-(III) Cmax values of 197 and 995 μg eq/mL, respectively, were determined following the dose of 10 g of hydroxocobalamin.

When normalized for body weight, male and female subjects revealed no major differences in pharmacokinetic parameters of free and total cobalamins-(III) following the administration of 5 and 10 g of hydroxocobalamin.


The volume of distribution at steady state (Vss ) for both free and total cobalamins-(III) showed no apparent relationship to dose. The Vss ranged from 280.7 to 349.5 L for free cobalamins-(III), and from 21.8 to 25.6 L for total cobalamins-(III). The comparatively high values for Vss of free cobalamins-(III) are due to the high protein binding of hydroxocobalamin as it reacts in the blood with plasma constituents to form cobalamins-(III) complexes and the rapid distribution of free cobalamins-(III) into tissues.


The mean total amount of cobalamins-(III) excreted in urine during the collection period of 72 hours was about 60% of a 5 g dose and about 50% of a 10 g dose of hydroxocobalamin. Overall, the total urinary excretion was calculated to be at least 60 to 70% of the administered dose. The majority of the urinary excretion occurred during the first 24 hours, but red-colored urine was observed for up to 35 days following the intravenous infusion. The mean half-life of free and total cobalamins-(III) was found to be approximately 26 to 31 hours at both the 5 g and 10 g dose level.


Hydroxocobalamin does not undergo metabolism.


Hydroxocobalamin is mainly excreted in urine.

In cyanide poisoning victims, hydroxocobalamin binds to cyanide to form cyanocobalamin, which is mainly excreted in urine.


13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility


Long-term animal studies have not been performed to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of hydroxocobalamin.


Hydroxocobalamin was negative in the following mutagenicity assays: in vitro bacterial reverse mutation assay using Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli strains, an in vitro assay of the tk locus in mouse lymphoma cells, and an in vivo rat micronucleus assay.

Impairment of Fertility

The effect of hydroxocobalamin on fertility has not been evaluated.


14.1 Animal Efficacy (Dog) Study of CYANOKIT for Cyanide Poisoning

The effectiveness of CYANOKIT for treatment of cyanide poisoning has not been determined in humans because inducing cyanide poisoning in humans to study the drug’s efficacy is not ethical. Therefore, the effectiveness of CYANOKIT for cyanide poisoning was established based on the results of the adequate and well-controlled animal efficacy study described below. While the results of this animal study cannot be extrapolated to humans with certainty, the extrapolation is supported by the understanding of the pathophysiologic mechanisms of the toxicity of cyanide and the mechanisms of the protective effect of hydroxocobalamin as examined in dogs. In addition, the results of uncontrolled human studies and the animal study establish that hydroxocobalamin is likely to produce clinical benefit in humans.

The effectiveness of hydroxocobalamin was examined in a randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded study in cyanide-poisoned adult dogs assigned to treatment with vehicle (0.9% saline), or 75 or 150 mg/kg hydroxocobalamin. Anesthetized dogs were poisoned by intravenous administration of a lethal dose of potassium cyanide. Dogs then received vehicle or 75 or 150 mg/kg hydroxocobalamin, administered intravenously over 7.5 minutes. The 75 and 150 mg/kg doses are approximately equivalent to 5 and 10 g of hydroxocobalamin (respectively) in humans based on both body weight and the Cmax of hydroxocobalamin (total cobalamins-(III)). Survival at 4 hours and at 14 days was significantly greater in low-and high-dose groups compared with dogs receiving vehicle alone (Table 4). Hydroxocobalamin reduced whole blood cyanide concentrations by approximately 50% by the end of the infusion compared with vehicle.

Table 4 Survival of Cyanide-Poisoned Dogs
Parameter Treatment
VehicleN=17 CYANOKIT
75 mg/kg N=19 150 mg/kgN=18
Survival at Hour 4, n (%) 7 (41) 18 (95) 18 (100)
Survival at Day 14, n (%) 3 (18) 15 (79) 18 (100)

Histopathology revealed brain lesions that were consistent with cyanide-induced hypoxia. The incidence of brain lesions was markedly lower in hydroxocobalamin treated animals compared to vehicle treated groups.

14.2 Smoke Inhalation Victims

A prospective, uncontrolled, open-label study was carried out in 69 subjects who had been exposed to smoke inhalation from fires. Subjects had to be over 15 years of age, present with soot in the mouth and expectoration (to indicate significant smoke exposure), and have altered neurological status. The median hydroxocobalamin dose was 5 g with a range from 4 to 15 g.

Fifty of 69 subjects (73%) survived following treatment with hydroxocobalamin. Nineteen subjects treated with hydroxocobalamin did not survive. Fifteen patients treated with hydroxocobalamin were in cardiac arrest initially at the scene; 13 of these subjects died and 2 survived.

Of the 42 subjects with pretreatment cyanide levels considered to be potentially toxic, 28 (67%) survived. Of the 19 subjects whose pretreatment cyanide levels were considered potentially lethal, 11 (58%) survived. Of the 50 subjects who survived, 9 subjects (18%) had neurological sequelae at hospital discharge. These included dementia, confusion, psychomotor retardation, anterograde amnesia, intellectual deterioration moderate cerebellar syndrome, aphasia, and memory impairment.

Two additional retrospective, uncontrolled studies were carried out in subjects who had been exposed to cyanide from fire or smoke inhalation. Subjects were treated with up to 15 g of hydroxocobalamin. Survival in these two studies was 34 of 61 (56%) for one study, and 30 of 72 (42%) for the second.

14.3 Cyanide Poisoning by Ingestion or Inhalation

A retrospective, uncontrolled study was carried out in 14 subjects who had been exposed to cyanide from sources other than from fire or smoke (i.e., ingestion or inhalation). Subjects were treated with 5 to 20 g of hydroxocobalamin. Eleven of 12 subjects whose blood cyanide concentration was known had initial blood cyanide levels considered to be above the lethal threshold.

Ten of 14 subjects (71%) survived, following administration of hydroxocobalamin. One of the four subjects who died had presented in cardiac arrest. Of the 10 subjects who survived, only 1 subject had neurological sequelae at hospital discharge. This subject had post-anoxic encephalopathy, with memory impairment, considered to be due to cyanide poisoning.

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