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DOBUTamine (Monograph)

Drug class: Selective beta-1-Adrenergic Agonists
VA class: AU100
CAS number: 49745-95-1

Medically reviewed by on Mar 2, 2022. Written by ASHP.


Special Alerts:

A standardized concentration for this drug has been established through Standardize 4 Safety (S4S), a national patient safety initiative to reduce medication errors, especially during transitions of care. The drug is included in a standard concentration list which may apply to an IV or oral compounded liquid formulation. For additional information, see the ASHP website [Web].


Synthetic sympathomimetic that is structurally related to dopamine; generally considered a relatively selective β1-adrenergic agonist.

Uses for DOBUTamine

Cardiac Decompensation

Used for inotropic support in the short-term management of cardiac decompensation caused by depressed contractility from organic heart disease or cardiac surgery.

Safety and efficacy in the long-term (e.g., >48 hours) treatment of congestive heart failure not established.

Because positive inotropes have not demonstrated improved outcomes and can be potentially harmful (e.g., increased risk of arrhythmias) in patients with heart failure, some experts recommend that such use be reserved for patients with severe systolic dysfunction who have low cardiac index and evidence of systemic hypoperfusion and/or congestion, or for palliative therapy in those with end-stage heart failure. To minimize risk of adverse effects, use lowest possible dosage and evaluate regularly for need for continued inotropic therapy.

Used in the treatment of septic or cardiogenic shock to improve myocardial contractility and maintain systemic perfusion. Current expert guidelines recommend a trial of dobutamine (alone or in addition to a vasopressor) in patients with septic shock if myocardial dysfunction is present, or if there is ongoing hypoperfusion despite adequate intravascular volume and mean arterial pressure. Early revascularization is standard of care in patients with cardiogenic shock; individualize use of inotropes in this setting.

Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)

Has been used for postresuscitation stabilization [off-label] in patients who require additional cardiac output and blood pressure support following cardiac arrest.

Cardiac Diagnostic Testing

Has been used as a pharmacologic stress test agent [off-label] during echocardiography in patients unable to exercise.

Also has been used as an alternative to exercise stress testing in patients undergoing myocardial perfusion imaging [off-label]. However, coronary vasodilating agents (e.g., adenosine, dipyridamole, regadenoson) are drugs of choice for this use; dobutamine generally recommended only as an alternative in patients who have contraindications (e.g., bronchospastic airway disease).

DOBUTamine Dosage and Administration


Administer by IV infusion.

Also has been administered by intraosseous (IO) infusion [off-label] in the setting of ACLS.

IV Infusion

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

Administer using an infusion pump or other apparatus to control flow rate and avoid inadvertent rapid IV (“bolus”) administration.

Dobutamine hydrochloride injection concentrate must be further diluted prior to IV infusion; alternatively, commercially available prediluted solutions of dobutamine hydrochloride in 5% dextrose injection may be used.

Dobutamine hydrochloride in 5% dextrose injection is commercially available in flexible plastic containers. Do not use in series connections.

Consult manufacturer's labeling for proper methods of administration and other associated precautions.


Must dilute dobutamine hydrochloride concentrate for injection with a compatible IV solution prior to administration (dilute 20 mL of concentrate in at least 50 mL of diluent and 40 mL of concentrate in at least 100 mL of diluent).

Individualize concentration according to patient dosage and fluid requirements; concentrations up to 5000 mcg/mL have been used.

Rate of Administration

Avoid rapid IV (“bolus”) administration.

Individualize IV infusion rate to achieve the desired clinical response.

Initiate at a slow rate (e.g., 0.5–1 mcg/kg per minute) and carefully adjust at intervals of a few minutes according to response; usually 2–20 mcg/kg per minute is needed to increase cardiac output.


Available as dobutamine hydrochloride; dosage expressed in terms of dobutamine.

Individual response to dobutamine is variable; titrate dosage to achieve the desired clinical response.

Carefully adjust rate and duration of infusion according to heart rate, BP, urine flow, presence of ectopic heartbeats, and, whenever possible, central venous or pulmonary wedge pressure and cardiac output.

Pediatric Patients

Cardiac Decompensation

Initiate at a slow rate (e.g., 0.5–1 mcg/kg per minute) and titrate to desired response.

Usually, 2–20 mcg/kg per minute is needed to increase cardiac output.


For postresuscitation stabilization [off-label], usual dosage range is 2–20 mcg/kg per minute.


Cardiac Decompensation

Initiate at a slow rate (e.g., 0.5–1 mcg/kg per minute) and titrate to desired response.

Usually, 2–20 mcg/kg per minute is needed to increase cardiac output.

In rare cases, infusion rates up to 40 mcg/kg per minute have been required.

Duration of therapy is based on patient response; clinical experience mostly short-term (e.g., not more than several hours).


For postresuscitation stabilization, usual dosage range is 5–10 mcg/kg per minute.

Special Populations

Hepatic Impairment

No specific hepatic dosage recommendations.

Renal Impairment

No specific renal dosage recommendations.

Geriatric Patients

Initiate therapy at lower end of usual range because of age-related decreases in hepatic, renal, and/or cardiac function and concomitant disease and drug therapy.

Cautions for DOBUTamine


  • Idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis.

  • Known hypersensitivity to dobutamine hydrochloride or any ingredient in the formulation.



Cardiovascular Effects

Marked increases in heart rate and BP (especially systolic pressure) can occur. Heart rate increase of ≥30 beats per minute or an increase in systolic BP of ≥50 mm Hg reported.

Cardiovascular effects are usually dose related, and dosage should be reduced or the infusion temporarily discontinued if such effects occur.

Patients with preexisting hypertension are at increased risk of an exaggerated pressor response.

Patients with atrial fibrillation should be digitalized because of the risk of developing a rapid ventricular response.

Ectopic Activity

Can precipitate or exacerbate ventricular ectopic activity; rarely, causes ventricular tachycardia.

Sensitivity Reactions

Hypersensitivity Reactions

Hypersensitivity, including skin rash, fever, eosinophilia, and bronchospasm, have been reported occasionally.


Some formulations contain sulfites, which may cause allergic-type reactions (including anaphylaxis and life-threatening or less severe asthmatic episodes) in certain susceptible individuals.

General Precautions


Hypovolemia should be corrected with an appropriate plasma volume expander before initiating dobutamine.


Clinical experience insufficient to rule out possibility of intensified or extended myocardial ischemia.

Cardiac Mechanical Obstruction

No benefit may be apparent in the presence of marked mechanical obstruction (e.g., severe valvular aortic stenosis).

Monitoring Parameters

Monitor ECG, BP and, when possible, cardiac output and pulmonary wedge pressure.

May produce slight reductions in serum potassium concentrations and hypokalemia may occur rarely; monitor serum potassium concentrations.

Specific Populations


Category B.


Not known whether dobutamine is distributed into human milk. Caution if used in nursing women.

Pediatric Use

Some manufacturers state that safety and efficacy have not been evaluated in pediatric patients. Others state that dobutamine increases cardiac output and systemic pressure in pediatric patients of all age groups.

In premature neonates, dobutamine may be less effective than dopamine in increasing systemic BP without causing undue tachycardia and has not been shown to provide any additional benefit when administered to such infants who are already receiving optimal dopamine therapy.

Geriatric Use

Insufficient experience in patients ≥65 years of age to determine whether geriatric patients respond differently than younger adults; some clinical experience suggest that geriatric patients may have higher incidence of substantial hypotension.

Use with caution since renal, hepatic, and cardiovascular dysfunction and concomitant disease or other drug therapy are more common in this age group.

Common Adverse Effects

Ectopic heartbeats, increased heart rate, elevations in BP, hypotension, phlebitis, local inflammatory changes.

Interactions for DOBUTamine

No evidence of interactions in clinical studies when used with atropine, cardiac glycosides (digoxin), furosemide, heparin, lidocaine, morphine, nitroglycerin, isosorbide dinitrate, potassium chloride, folic acid, protamine, acetaminophen, or spironolactone.

Specific Drugs




β-Adrenergic blocking agents (e.g., metoprolol, propranolol)

Cardiac effects of dobutamine are antagonized, resulting in predominant α-adrenergic effects and increased peripheral resistance; dobutamine may be ineffective

Anesthetics, general (e.g., halogenated hydrocarbons [e.g., halothane], cyclopropane)

May increase cardiac irritability, resulting in ventricular arrhythmias with usual dobutamine doses

Use concomitantly with caution

Sodium nitroprusside

Potentiated effects on cardiac output and pulmonary wedge pressure

DOBUTamine Pharmacokinetics



Onset occurs within 2 minutes after initiation of IV infusion; peaks within 10 minutes.


Effects cease shortly after infusion discontinuance.



Not known if dobutamine crosses the placenta or is distributed into milk.



Metabolized in the liver and other tissues by catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) to an inactive compound, 3-O-methyldobutamine, and by conjugation with glucuronic acid.

Elimination Route

Conjugates of dobutamine and 3-O-methyldobutamine excreted mainly in urine and to a minor extent in feces.


About 2 minutes.




Pink discoloration indicates slight oxidation of the drug; however, there is no important loss of potency if administered within the recommended time period.

Concentrate for Injection for IV Infusion

20–25°C. Do not freeze.

Following dilution, use within 24 hours.

Injection in 5% Dextrose for IV Infusion

20–25°C; may be exposed briefly to temperatures up to 40°C. Do not freeze or expose to excessive heat.


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

Incompatible with strongly alkaline solutions.

Should not be used in conjunction with other drugs or diluents containing both sodium bisulfite and ethanol.


Solution Compatibility131

Stable for 24 hours in dextrose 5 or 10%, dextrose 5% in sodium chloride 0.45 or 0.9%, dextrose 5% in lactated Ringer’s injection, Isolyte M with 5% dextrose, lactated Ringer's, Normosol-M with 5% dextrose, Osmitrol in water, sodium chloride 0.9%, and sodium lactate 1/6 M.


Dextrose 2.5% in half-strength Ringer’s injection, lactated

Dextrose 5% in Ringer’s injection, lactated

Dextrose 2.5% in sodium chloride 0.45%

Dextrose 5% in sodium chloride 0.45 or 0.9%

Dextrose 5 and 10% in water

Normosol M in Dextrose 5%

Ringer’s injection, lactated

Sodium chloride 0.45 or 0.9%

Sodium lactate 1/6 M


Sodium bicarbonate 5%

Drug Compatibility

Additives should not be introduced into the injection containers.

Admixture Compatibility131


Amiodarone HCl

Atracurium besylate

Atropine sulfate


Dopamine HCl


Epinephrine HCl


Hydralazine HCl

Isoproterenol HCl

Lidocaine HCl

Meperidine HCl


Morphine sulfate


Norepinephrine bitartrate

Phentolamine mesylate

Phenylephrine HCl

Procainamide HCl

Propranolol HCl

Ranitidine HCl



Acyclovir sodium




Calcium gluconate



Floxacillin sodium


Magnesium sulfate

Phenytoin sodium

Potassium phosphates

Sodium bicarbonate


Calcium chloride

Heparin sodium

Nitroglycerin with sodium nitroprusside

Potassium chloride

Verapamil HCl

Y-Site Compatibility131




Amiodarone HCl



Atracurium besylate


Calcium chloride

Calcium gluconate

Caspofungin acetate


Cisatracurium besylate



Clonidine HCl

Dexmedetomidine HCl


Diltiazem HCl


Dopamine HCl

Dopamine HCl with lidocaine HCl

Dopamine HCl with nitroglycerin

Dopamine HCl with sodium nitroprusside


Doxorubicin HCl liposome injection


Epinephrine HCl

Etoposide phosphate


Fenoldopam mesylate

Fentanyl citrate


Gemcitabine HCl

Granisetron HCl

Haloperidol lactate

Hetastarch in lactated electrolyte injection (Hextend)

Hydromorphone HCl

Hydroxyethyl starch 130/0.4 in sodium chloride 0.9%

Insulin, regular

Labetalol HCl


Lidocaine HCl

Lidocaine HCl with dopamine HCl

Lidocaine HCl with nitroglycerin

Lidocaine HCl with sodium nitroprusside



Magnesium sulfate

Meperidine HCl

Milrinone lactate

Morphine sulfate

Nicardipine HCl


Nitroglycerin with dopamine HCl

Nitroglycerin with lidocaine HCl

Nitroglycerin with sodium nitroprusside

Norepinephrine bitartrate


Pancuronium bromide

Potassium chloride


Ranitidine HCl

Remifentanil HCl

Sodium nitroprusside

Sodium nitroprusside with dopamine HCl

Sodium nitroprusside with lidocaine HCl

Sodium nitroprusside with nitroglycerin


Telavancin HCl




Tirofiban HCl


Vecuronium bromide

Verapamil HCl



Acyclovir sodium



Amphotericin B cholesteryl sulfate complex

Foscarnet sodium

Indomethacin sodium trihydrate

Micafungin sodium

Pantoprazole sodium

Pemetrexed disodium


Piperacillin sodium–tazobactam sodium

Warfarin sodium



Cefepime HCl

Ceftaroline fosamil



Heparin sodium

Midazolam HCl


  • The main effect of therapeutic doses is cardiac stimulation.

  • Principally a selective, direct stimulatory effect on β1-adrenergic receptors, but the mechanisms of action are complex.

  • In therapeutic doses, also mild β2- and α1-adrenergic receptor agonist effects.

  • β1-Adrenergic effects exert a potent positive inotropic effect, resulting in increased myocardial contractility and cardiac output.

    Increased left ventricular filling pressure decreases in patients with congestive heart failure.

  • Therapeutic doses cause decreased peripheral resistance; however, systolic BP and pulse pressure may remain unchanged or be increased because of augmented cardiac output.

  • Usual doses do not substantially change heart rate.

  • Coronary blood flow and myocardial oxygen consumption are usually increased because of increased myocardial contractility.

  • May facilitate AV conduction and shorten or cause no important change in intraventricular conduction.

  • Pulmonary vascular resistance may decrease if it is elevated initially and mean pulmonary artery pressure may decrease or remain unchanged.

  • Unlike dopamine, dobutamine does not seem to affect dopaminergic receptors and causes no renal or mesenteric vasodilation; however, urine flow may increase because of increased cardiac output.

Advice to Patients

  • Importance of informing clinicians of existing or contemplated concomitant therapy, including prescription and OTC drugs.

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

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


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

Please refer to the ASHP Drug Shortages Resource Center for information on shortages of one or more of these preparations.

* available from one or more manufacturer, distributor, and/or repackager by generic (nonproprietary) name

DOBUTamine Hydrochloride


Dosage Forms


Brand Names



For injection concentrate, for IV infusion

12.5 mg (of dobutamine) per mL*

DOBUTamine Hydrochloride Injection

* available from one or more manufacturer, distributor, and/or repackager by generic (nonproprietary) name

DOBUTamine Hydrochloride in Dextrose


Dosage Forms


Brand Names



Injection, for IV infusion

1 mg (of dobutamine) per mL (250 or 500 mg) in 5% Dextrose*

DOBUTamine in 5% Dextrose Injection (Lifecare; Viaflex)

2 mg (of dobutamine) per mL (500 mg) in 5% Dextrose*

DOBUTamine in 5% Dextrose Injection (Lifecare; Viaflex)

4 mg (of dobutamine) per mL (1000 mg) in 5% Dextrose*

DOBUTamine in 5% Dextrose Injection (Lifecare; Viaflex)

AHFS DI Essentials™. © Copyright 2023, Selected Revisions March 2, 2022. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland 20814.

† Off-label: Use is not currently included in the labeling approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

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