Pilocarpine Hydrochloride (Page 2 of 4)


Pilocarpine hydrochloride tablets are contraindicated in patients with uncontrolled asthma, known hypersensitivity to pilocarpine, and when miosis is undesirable, e.g., in acute iritis and in narrow-angle (angle closure) glaucoma.


Cardiovascular Disease: Patients with significant cardiovascular disease may be unable to compensate for transient changes in hemodynamics or rhythm induced by pilocarpine. Pulmonary edema has been reported as a complication of pilocarpine toxicity from high ocular doses given for acute angle-closure glaucoma. Pilocarpine should be administered with caution in and under close medical supervision of patients with significant cardiovascular disease.

Ocular: Ocular formulations of pilocarpine have been reported to cause visual blurring which may result in decreased visual acuity, especially at night and in patients with central lens changes, and to cause impairment of depth perception. Caution should be advised while driving at night or performing hazardous activities in reduced lighting.

Pulmonary Disease: Pilocarpine has been reported to increase airway resistance, bronchial smooth muscle tone, and bronchial secretions. Pilocarpine hydrochloride should be administered with caution to and under close medical supervision in patients with controlled asthma, chronic bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease requiring pharmacotherapy.



Pilocarpine toxicity is characterized by an exaggeration of its parasympathomimetic effects. These may include: headache, visual disturbance, lacrimation, sweating, respiratory distress, gastrointestinal spasm, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, atrioventricular block, tachycardia, bradycardia, hypotension, hypertension, shock, mental confusion, cardiac arrhythmia, and tremors.

The dose-related cardiovascular pharmacologic effects of pilocarpine include hypotension, hypertension, bradycardia, and tachycardia.

Pilocarpine should be administered with caution to patients with known or suspected cholelithiasis or biliary tract disease. Contractions of the gallbladder or biliary smooth muscle could precipitate complications including cholecystitis, cholangitis, and biliary obstruction.

Pilocarpine may increase ureteral smooth muscle tone and could theoretically precipitate renal colic (or “ureteral reflux”), particularly in patients with nephrolithiasis.

Cholinergic agonists may have dose-related central nervous system effects. This should be considered when treating patients with underlying cognitive or psychiatric disturbances.

Hepatic Insufficiency: Based on decreased plasma clearance observed in patients with moderate hepatic impairment, the starting dose in these patients should be 5 mg twice daily, followed by adjustment based on therapeutic response and tolerability. Patients with mild hepatic insufficiency (Child-Pugh score of 5 to 6) do not require dosage reductions. To date, pharmacokinetic studies in subjects with severe hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh score of 10 to 15) have not been carried out. The use of pilocarpine in these patients is not recommended.
Child-Pugh Scoring System for Hepatic Impairment

* According to grading of Trey C, Burns D, and Saunders S. Treatment of hepatic coma by exchange blood transfusion. N Engl J Med. 1966; 274:473-481.
Clinical and Biochemical Measurements Points Scored for Increasing Abnormality
1 2 3
Encephalopathy (grade)* None 1 and 2 3 and 4
Ascites Absent Slight Moderate
Bilirubin (mg. per 100 mL) 1 to 2 2 to 3 >3
Albumin (g. per 100 mL) 3 to 5 2.8 to 3.5 <2.8
Prothrombin Time (sec. Prolonged) 1 to 4 4 to 6 >6
For Primary Biliary Cirrhosis:- Bilirubin (mg. per 100 mL) 1 to 4 4 to 10 >10

Reference: Pugh RNH, Murray-Lyon IM, Dawson JL, Pietroni MC, Williams R. Transection of the oesophagus for bleeding oesophageal varices. Brit J Surg. 1973; 60:646-9.

Information for Patients Patients should be informed that pilocarpine may cause visual disturbances, especially at night, that could impair their ability to drive safely. If a patient sweats excessively while taking pilocarpine hydrochloride and cannot drink enough liquid, the patient should consult a physician. Dehydration may develop.

Drug Interactions

Pilocarpine should be administered with caution to patients taking beta-adrenergic antagonists because of the possibility of conduction disturbances. Drugs with parasympathomimetic effects administered concurrently with pilocarpine would be expected to result in additive pharmacologic effects. Pilocarpine might antagonize the anticholinergic effects of drugs used concomitantly. These effects should be considered when anticholinergic properties may be contributing to the therapeutic effect of concomitant medication (e.g., atropine, inhaled ipratropium). While no formal drug interaction studies have been performed, the following concomitant drugs were used in at least 10% of patients in either or both Sjogren’s efficacy studies: acetylsalicylic acid, artificial tears, calcium, conjugated estrogens, hydroxychloroquine sulfate, ibuprofen, levothyroxine sodium, medroxyprogesterone acetate, methotrexate, multivitamins, naproxen, omeprazole, paracetamol, and prednisone.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Lifetime oral carcinogenicity studies were conducted in CD-1 mice and Sprague-Dawley rats. Pilocarpine did not induce tumors in mice at any dosage studied (up to 30 mg/kg/day, which yielded a systemic exposure approximately 50 times larger than the maximum systemic exposure observed clinically). In rats, a dosage of 18 mg/kg/day, which yielded a systemic exposure approximately 100 times larger than the maximum systemic exposure observed clinically, resulted in a statistically significant increase in the incidence of benign pheochromocytomas in both males and females, and a statistically significant increase in the incidence of hepatocellular adenomas in female rats. The tumorigenicity observed in rats was observed only at a large multiple of the maximum labeled clinical dose, and may not be relevant to clinical use.

No evidence that pilocarpine has the potential to cause genetic toxicity was obtained in a series of studies that included: 1) bacterial assays (Salmonella and E. coli) for reverse gene mutations; 2) an in vitro chromosome aberration assay in a Chinese hamster ovary cell line; 3) an in vivo chromosome aberration assay (micronucleus test) in mice; and 4) a primary DNA damage assay (unscheduled DNA synthesis) in rat hepatocyte primary cultures.

Oral administration of pilocarpine to male and female rats at a dosage of 18 mg/kg/day, which yielded a systemic exposure approximately 100 times larger than the maximum systemic exposure observed clinically, resulted in impaired reproductive function, including reduced fertility, decreased sperm motility, and morphologic evidence of abnormal sperm. It is unclear whether the reduction in fertility was due to effects on male animals, female animals, or both males and females. In dogs, exposure to pilocarpine at a dosage of 3 mg/kg/day (approximately 3 times the maximum recommended human dose when compared on the basis of body surface area (mg/m2) estimates) for six months resulted in evidence of impaired spermatogenesis. The data obtained in these studies suggest that pilocarpine may impair the fertility of male and female humans. Pilocarpine hydrochloride tablets should be administered to individuals who are attempting to conceive a child only if the potential benefit justifies potential impairment of fertility.

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