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Generic Name: vasopressin (Injection route)


Commonly used brand name(s)

In the U.S.

  • Pitressin

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Solution

Therapeutic Class: Endocrine-Metabolic Agent

Pharmacologic Class: Vasopressin (class)

Uses For Pitressin

Vasopressin injection is used to control the frequent urination, increased thirst, and loss of water caused by diabetes insipidus. This is a condition that causes the body to lose too much water and become dehydrated. Vasopressin injection is also used to prevent and treat abdominal or stomach distension that occurs after surgery. It is also used in abdominal or stomach roentgenography.

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Vasopressin is a hormone that is produced in the body. It acts on the kidneys to reduce the flow of urine.

Vasopressin injection is also used to increase blood pressure in adults with vasodilatory shock (eg, post-cardiotomy, sepsis) who remain to have low blood pressure after receiving fluids and medicines.

This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before Using Pitressin

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.


Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of Vasostrict™ in children with vasodilatory shock. Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of Pitressin® in children with diabetes insipidus and abdominal distension.


Although appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of Vasostrict™ have not been performed in the geriatric population, no geriatric-specific problems have been documented to date. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney, liver, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving Vasostrict™.

No information is available on the relationship of age to the effects of Pitressin® in geriatric patients.


Pregnancy Category Explanation
All Trimesters C Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.

Breast Feeding

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Interactions with Medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.

  • Bepridil
  • Cisapride
  • Levomethadyl
  • Thioridazine

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Acecainide
  • Ajmaline
  • Amiodarone
  • Amitriptyline
  • Amoxapine
  • Aprindine
  • Arsenic Trioxide
  • Astemizole
  • Azimilide
  • Bretylium
  • Chloral Hydrate
  • Chloroquine
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Clomipramine
  • Desipramine
  • Dibenzepin
  • Disopyramide
  • Dofetilide
  • Dothiepin
  • Doxepin
  • Droperidol
  • Encainide
  • Enflurane
  • Erythromycin
  • Flecainide
  • Fluconazole
  • Fluoxetine
  • Foscarnet
  • Furosemide
  • Gemifloxacin
  • Halofantrine
  • Halothane
  • Hydroquinidine
  • Ibutilide
  • Imipramine
  • Indomethacin
  • Isoflurane
  • Isradipine
  • Lidoflazine
  • Lorcainide
  • Mefloquine
  • Nortriptyline
  • Octreotide
  • Pentamidine
  • Pirmenol
  • Prajmaline
  • Probucol
  • Procainamide
  • Prochlorperazine
  • Propafenone
  • Protriptyline
  • Quinidine
  • Sematilide
  • Sotalol
  • Spiramycin
  • Sulfamethoxazole
  • Tedisamil
  • Telithromycin
  • Trifluoperazine
  • Trimethoprim
  • Trimipramine
  • Venlafaxine
  • Zolmitriptan

Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other Medical Problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Asthma or
  • Epilepsy or
  • Heart disease or
  • Heart failure or
  • Migraine headaches—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
  • Blood vessel disease or
  • Coronary artery disease—Use with caution. May cause side effects to become worse.
  • Kidney disease, chronic (with nitrogen retention)—Should not be used in patients with this condition.

Proper Use of Pitressin

A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine in a hospital or clinic. This medicine is given as a shot under your skin, into a muscle or vein.

This medicine may be given at home to patients with diabetes insipidus who do not need to be in the hospital or clinic. If you are using this medicine at home, your doctor or nurse will teach you how to prepare and inject the medicine. Be sure that you understand how to use the medicine.

You will be shown the body areas where this shot can be given. Use a different body area each time you give yourself a shot. Keep track of where you give each shot to make sure you rotate body areas. This will help prevent skin problems from the injections.

Use a new needle and syringe each time you inject your medicine.

Your doctor may limit the amount of fluid or water you drink. Follow the instructions carefully to prevent unwanted effects.


The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For injection dosage form (solution):
    • For treatment of diabetes insipidus:
      • Adults and teenagers—5 to 10 Units injected into a muscle or under the skin two or three times a day as needed.
      • Children—2.5 to 10 Units injected into a muscle or under the skin three or four times a day.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.


Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.

Precautions While Using Pitressin

It is very important that your doctor check you closely while you are receiving this medicine. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to receive it. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

Vasopressin may cause allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using this medicine.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

Pitressin Side Effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

Incidence not known
  • Abdominal or stomach pain, usually after eating a meal
  • agitation
  • back pain
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • chest tightness or heaviness
  • coma
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • convulsions
  • cough
  • decreased urine output
  • depression
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dilated neck veins
  • dizziness
  • extreme fatigue
  • fainting
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • headache
  • hives, itching, or rash
  • hostility
  • increased thirst
  • irregular breathing
  • irritability
  • lethargy
  • lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • muscle pain or cramps
  • muscle twitching
  • nausea or vomiting
  • no blood pressure or pulse
  • pain in the shoulders, arms, jaw, or neck
  • pale, cool, or blotchy skin on the arms or legs
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • rapid weight gain
  • seizures
  • slow or irregular heartbeat
  • stopping of heart
  • stupor
  • sweating
  • swelling of the face, ankles, fingers, feet, or lower legs
  • troubled breathing
  • unconsciousness
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • weak or absent pulse in the arms or legs

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

Incidence not known
  • Abdominal or stomach cramps
  • feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
  • pale skin
  • passing of gas
  • pounding in the head
  • sensation of spinning
  • shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
  • sweating
  • trembling or shaking of the hands or feet

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

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

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

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