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Generic Name: Dexmedetomidine Hydrochloride
Class: Anxiolytics, Sedatives, and Hypnotics; Miscellaneous
VA Class: CN309
Chemical Name: (S)-4-[1-(2,3-Dimethylphenyl)ethyl]-1H-imidazole monohydrochloride
Molecular Formula: C13H16N2•HCl
CAS Number: 145108-58-3


Relatively selective α2-adrenergic agonist with sedative properties.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 13

Uses for Precedex

Sedation in Critical-care Settings

Sedation of initially intubated and mechanically ventilated patients in an intensive-care setting.1

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Precedex Dosage and Administration


  • Should be administered only by individuals experienced in the management of patients in an intensive-care setting.1

  • Individualize dosage and titrate to desired level of sedation.1

  • Monitor patient continuously.1 15

  • Should not be infused for periods >24 hours.1

  • Not necessary to discontinue the drug prior to extubation provided that duration of infusion is ≤24 hours.1


IV Administration

For solution and drug compatibility information, see Compatibility under Stability.

Administer by IV infusion.1

May adsorb to some types of natural rubber; use administration components made with synthetic or coated natural rubber gaskets.1

Vials are for single use only.1


Must be diluted in 0.9% sodium chloride injection prior to administration.1 For preparation of the 4-mcg/mL concentration used for loading and maintenance infusions, add 2 mL of the concentrate (100 mcg/mL) to 48 mL of 0.9% sodium chloride injection.1

Rate of Administration

Administer by slow IV infusion via a controlled-infusion device (pump).1

Rapid IV infusion associated with loss of α2-adrenergic selectivity1 and adverse cardiovascular effects.1 2 3 15 (See Actions and also see Cardiac Arrhythmias under Cautions.)


Available as dexmedetomidine hydrochloride; dosage is expressed in terms of dexmedetomidine.1


Sedation in Critical-care Settings

Initially, 1 mcg/kg as a loading infusion over 10 minutes, followed by maintenance infusion of 0.2–0.7 mcg/kg per hour for ≤24 hours.1

Special Populations

Hepatic Impairment

Consider dosage reduction.1

Renal Impairment

Consider dosage reduction; metabolites may accumulate with long-term infusion.1

Geriatric Patients

Consider dosage reduction.1

Cautions for Precedex


  • Known hypersensitivity to dexmedetomidine hydrochloride.1



Cardiac Arrhythmias

Bradycardia and sinus arrest reported in young, healthy adults with high vagal tone; also associated with other methods of administration, including rapid IV administration.1

General Precautions

Cardiovascular Precautions

Possible hypotension and bradycardia;1 8 9 may be more pronounced in geriatric patients or those with hypovolemia, diabetes mellitus, or chronic hypertension.16 If treatment is required, consider slowing or stopping dexmedetomidine infusion, increasing IV fluids, elevating lower extremities, and/or vasopressors; consider IV anticholinergic agents (e.g., atropine sulfate, glycopyrrolate) to modify vagal tone.16

Transient hypertension reported with loading dose; treatment generally not required.1

Supraventricular and ventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, extrasystoles, and cardiac arrest reported rarely.1 15

Use with caution in patients with advanced heart block and/or severe ventricular dysfunction.1

Withdrawal Reactions

Potential for withdrawal manifestations (e.g., nervousness,1 agitation,1 headaches,1 rapid rise in blood pressure,1 elevated plasma catecholamine concentrations1 ) if administered chronically and stopped abruptly.1 Should not be administered for >24 hours.1

Nervous System Effects

Some patients observed to be arousable and alert when stimulated; should not be considered as lack of efficacy in the absence of other signs and symptoms.1

Adrenal Insufficiency

Cortisol response to corticotropin stimulation decreased by approximately 40% in dogs after sub-Q infusion of dexmedetomidine for one week; however, no changes noted after single-dose administration.16

Specific Populations


Category C.1 Use during labor and delivery, including cesarean section deliveries, is not recommended.1


Distributed into milk in rats.1 Caution if used in nursing women.1

Pediatric Use

Safety and efficacy not established in children <18 years of age.1

Geriatric Use

Use with caution in patients >65 years of age.1

Hypotension and/or bradycardia may be more pronounced.1

Monitor renal function.1

Renal Impairment

Use with caution.1 (See Renal Impairment under Dosage and Administration.)

Hepatic Impairment

Use with caution.1 (See Dosage and Administration.)

Common Adverse Effects

Hypotension,1 8 hypertension,1 nausea,1 bradycardia,1 8 fever,1 16 vomiting,1 16 hypoxia,1 tachycardia,16 anemia.1

Interactions for Precedex

Metabolized by CYP isoenzymes, principally CYP2A6.1 However, no evidence of clinically important CYP-mediated drug interactions in vitro.1

Agents with Negative Chronotropic Effects

Potential pharmacodynamic interaction (additive pharmacodynamic effects).16 Use with caution.16

Protein-bound Drugs

Pharmacokinetic interaction unlikely.1

Specific Drugs





Additive pharmacologic effects1 8

May require reduction in anesthetic dosage1 8


Negligible change in dexmedetomidine protein binding in vitro; negligible displacement of digoxin from protein binding sites in vitro1


Negligible change in dexmedetomidine protein binding in vitro1


Negligible displacement of ibuprofen from protein binding sites in vitro1


Negligible change in dexmedetomidine protein binding in vitro1


Negligible change in dexmedetomidine protein binding in vitro1

Neuromuscular blocking agents

Increased plasma rocuronium concentrations1 12

No clinically important effect on neuromuscular blockade1 12

Opiate agonists

Additive pharmacologic effects1 8

May require reduction in opiate agonist dosage1 8


Negligible displacement of phenytoin from protein binding sites in vitro1


Negligible displacement of propranolol from protein binding sites in vitro1


Additive pharmacologic effects1 8

May require reduction in sedative/hypnotic dosage1 8


Negligible change in dexmedetomidine protein binding in vitro; negligible displacement of theophylline from protein binding sites in vitro1


Additive pharmacologic effects16

Use with caution16


Negligible displacement of warfarin from protein binding sites in vitro1

Precedex Pharmacokinetics



Rapidly distributed.16

Crosses the placenta and is distributed into milk when administered sub-Q to rats.1

Plasma Protein Binding

Approximately 94%.16



Undergoes almost complete biotransformation by direct glucuronidation, aliphatic hydroxylation by CYP2A6, and N-methylation.1 15

Elimination Route

Excreted in urine (95%) and feces (4%).16


Terminal elimination half-life is approximately 2 hours.2 3 6

Special Populations

In patients with mild, moderate, or severe hepatic impairment, mean clearance values were 74, 64, or 53%, respectively, of those in healthy subjects.16

Pharmacokinetics of dexmedetomidine metabolites in patients with renal impairment not determined to date; potential for accumulation with long-term infusion.16




Injection Concentrate

25°C (may be exposed to temperatures ranging from 15–30°C).1


For information on systemic interactions resulting from concomitant use, see Interactions.

Should not be infused through the same IV line with blood or plasma.1


Solution Compatibility


Dextrose 5%

Lactated Ringer’s

Mannitol 20%

Sodium chloride 0.9%

Drug Compatibility
Y-Site Injection Compatibility

Compatible1 HID

Alfentanil HCl

Amikacin sulfate


Amiodarone HCl

Ampicillin sodium

Ampicillin sodium-sulbactam sodium

Atracurium besylate

Atropine sulfate



Bretylium tosylate


Butorphanol tartrate

Calcium gluconate

Cefazolin sodium

Cefepime HCl

Cefotaxime sodium

Cefoxitin sodium

Ceftizoxime sodium

Ceftriaxone sodium

Cefuroxime sodium

Chlorpromazine HCl

Cimetidine HCl


Clindamycin phosphate


Dexamethasone sodium phosphate


Diltiazem HCl

Diphenhydramine HCl

Dobutamine HCl

Dolasetron mesylate

Dopamine HCl

Doxycycline hyclate



Ephedrine sulfate

Epinephrine HCl

Erythromycin lactobionate

Esmolol HCl



Fentanyl citrate

Fenoldopam mesylate



Gentamicin sulfate


Granisetron HCl

Haloperidol lactate

Heparin sodium

Hydromorphone HCl

Hydroxyzine HCl

Inamrinone lactate

Isoproterenol HCl

Ketorolac tromethamine

Labetalol HCl


Lidocaine HCl



Magnesium sulfate

Meperidine HCl

Methylprednisolone sodium succinate

Metoclopramide HCl


Midazolam HCl

Milrinone lactate

Mivacurium chloride

Morphine sulfate

Nalbuphine HCl


Norepinephrine bitartrate


Ondansetron HCl

Pancuronium bromide

Phenylephrine HCl

Piperacillin sodium-tazobactam sodium

Potassium chloride

Procainamide HCl

Prochlorperazine edisylate

Promethazine HCl


Ranitidine HCl

Remifentanil HCl

Rocuronium bromide

Sodium bicarbonate

Sodium nitroprusside

Succinylcholine chloride

Sufentanil citrate


Thiopental sodium

Ticarcillin disodium-clavulanate potassium

Tobramycin sulfate


Vecuronium bromide



Amphotericin B



  • Dose-related sedative, anxiolytic, analgesic, and anesthetic-sparing effects;2 3 5 6 8 13 does not appear to reduce dosage requirements of skeletal muscle relaxants.3 12

  • Helps maintain intraoperative hemodynamic stability by blunting sympathetic response to surgery.2 3 5 6 8 13

  • Does not cause respiratory depression in healthy individuals when given by IV infusion in recommended dosages.1

  • Compared with clonidine, dexmedetomidine has a shorter half-life2 3 5 (about 2 versus 8–12 hours)2 3 6 and greater α2-selectivity, with potential for reduced incidence of undesirable α1-adrenergic effects (e.g., hypotension, bradycardia).3

  • Exhibits α2-selectivity when given by slow IV infusion in low to moderate doses (10–300 mcg/kg); selectivity diminishes at 12 high doses (e.g., 1000 mcg/kg) or with rapid IV administration.1

Advice to Patients

  • Importance of informing clinicians of existing or contemplated concomitant therapy, including prescription and OTC drugs as well as any concomitant diseases.1

  • Importance of women informing clinicians if they are or plan to become pregnant or plan to breast-feed.1

  • Importance of informing patients of other important precautionary information. (See Cautions.)1


Excipients in commercially available drug preparations may have clinically important effects in some individuals; consult specific product labeling for details.

Dexmedetomidine Hydrochloride


Dosage Forms


Brand Names



For injection concentrate, for IV infusion

100 mcg (of dexmedetomidine) per mL

Precedex (preservative-free)


AHFS DI Essentials. © Copyright, 2004-2015, Selected Revisions August 1, 2007. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland 20814.


1. Abbott Laboratories. Precedex (dexmedetomidine) injection prescribing information. North Chicago, IL; 2000 Feb.

2. Khan ZP, Ferguson CN, Jones RM. Alpha-2 and imidazoline receptor agonists. Anaesthesia. 1999; 54:146-65. [IDIS 424011] [PubMed 10215710]

3. Kamibayashi T, Harasawa K, Maze M. Alpha-2 adrenergic agonists. Can J Anaesth. 1997; 44:R13-R18. [IDIS 388191] [PubMed 9196836]

4. Peden CJ, Prys-Roberts C. Dexmedetomidine—a powerful new adjunct to anaesthesia? Br J Anaesth. 1992; 68:123-5. Editorial.

5. Shipton EA. Alpha-adrenergic agonists in anaesthesia and analgesia. S Afr Med J. 1991; 79:578-80. [IDIS 285945] [PubMed 1674173]

6. Jalonen J, Hynynen M, Kuitunen A et al. Dexmedetomidine as an anesthetic adjunct in coronary artery bypass grafting. Anesthesiology. 1997; 86:331-45. [IDIS 382076] [PubMed 9054252]

7. Aho M, Lehtinen A-M, Erkola O et al. The effect of intravenously administered dexmedetomidine on perioperative hemodynamics and isoflurane requirements in patients undergoing abdominal hysterectomy. Anesthesiology. 1991; 74:997-1002. [IDIS 284603] [PubMed 1675042]

8. Aho MS, Erkola OA, Scheinin H et al. Effect of intravenously administered dexmedetomidine on pain after laparoscopic tubal ligation. Anesth Analg. 1991; 73:112-8. [IDIS 285764] [PubMed 1854025]

9. Lawrence CJ, De Lange S. Effects of a single pre-operative dexmedetomidine dose on isoflurane requirements and peri-operative haemodynamic stability. Anaesthesia. 1997; 52:736-44. [IDIS 390419] [PubMed 9291757]

10. Talke P, Li J, Jain U et al. Effects of perioperative dexmedetomidine infusion in patients undergoing vascular surgery. Anesthesiology. 1995; 82:620-33. [IDIS 344466] [PubMed 7879930]

11. Jaakola M-L, Ali-Melkkila T, Kanto J et al. Dexmedetomidine reduces intraocular pressure, intubation responses and anaesthetic requirements in patients undergoing ophthalmic surgery. Br J Anaesth. 1992; 68:570-5. [IDIS 297845] [PubMed 1351736]

12. Talke PO, Caldwell JE, Richardson CA et al. The effects of dexmedetomidine on neuromuscular blockade in human volunteers. Anesth Analg. 1999; 88:633-9. [IDIS 425244] [PubMed 10072019]

13. Khan ZP, Munday IT, Jones RM et al. Effects of dexmedetomidine on isoflurane requirements in healthy volunteers. 1. Pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic interactions. Br J Anaesth. 1999; 83:372-80. [IDIS 434895] [PubMed 10655905]

14. Aho M, Erkola O, Kallio A et al. Dexmedetomidine infusion for maintenance of anesthesia in patients undergoing abdominal hysterectomy. Anesth Analg. 1992; 75:940-6. [IDIS 306164] [PubMed 1359809]

15. Abbott, Abbott Park, IL: Personal communication.

16. Abbott Laboratories. Precedex (dexmedetomidine) injection prescribing information. North Chicago, IL; 2001 Feb.

HID. Trissel LA. Handbook on injectable drugs. 14th ed; Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists; 2007:489-95.