Generic Name: papaverine (pa PAV uh reen)
What is papaverine?
Papaverine is a vasodilator that relaxes smooth muscles in your blood vessels to help them dilate (widen). This lowers blood pressure and allows blood to flow more easily through your veins and arteries.
Papaverine is used to treat many conditions that cause spasm of smooth muscle. This includes chest pain, circulation problems, heart attack, or disorders of the stomach or gallbladder.
Papaverine is not for use in treating erectile dysfunction (impotence) and should not be injected into the penis. This practice has resulted in painful or prolonged erection that may require surgery to correct.
Papaverine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about papaverine?
You should not receive this medicine if you have a serious heart condition such as "AV block."
In an emergency situation it may not be possible to tell your caregivers about your health conditions. Make sure any doctor caring for you afterward knows you have received this medicine.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving papaverine?
You should not receive papaverine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
a serious heart condition such as "AV block."
If possible before you receive papaverine, tell your doctor if you have:
high blood pressure;
It is not known whether papaverine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.
It is not known whether papaverine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
In an emergency situation it may not be possible to tell your caregivers if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Make sure any doctor caring for your pregnancy or your baby knows you have received this medicine.
How is papaverine given?
Papaverine is injected into a muscle, or into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.
When injected into a vein, papaverine must be given slowly (over 1 or 2 minutes) to prevent vein irritation or other side effects.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Because you will receive papaverine in a clinical setting, you are not likely to miss a dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
Overdose symptoms may include weakness, drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting, double vision, sweating, warmth or redness, fast heartbeats, and uncontrolled eye movement.
What should I avoid after receiving papaverine?
This medicine may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of papaverine.
Papaverine side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
skin rash, bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness;
severe headache, blurred vision, fast heart rate, pounding in your neck or ears, anxiety, shortness of breath;
vision changes; or
pain, swelling, or redness where the medicine was injected.
Common side effects may include:
nausea, upset stomach, loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhea;
general ill feeling;
headache, drowsiness, dizziness or spinning sensation;
flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);
skin rash, increased sweating; or
tiredness, lack of energy.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect papaverine?
Taking this medicine with other drugs that make you sleepy can worsen this effect. Ask your doctor before taking papaverine with a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.
Other drugs may interact with papaverine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.
More about papaverine
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about papaverine.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 4.01.
Date modified: January 10, 2017
Last reviewed: May 15, 2014