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Generic name: dexmedetomidineDEX-med-e-TOE-mi-deen ]
Drug class: Miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics

Medically reviewed by on Oct 31, 2022. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is Precedex?

Precedex is a sedative that is used to sedate a patient who is under intensive medical care and needs a mechanical ventilator (breathing machine).

Before a ventilator is used, a breathing tube must be inserted through the mouth and into the patient's airway, a procedure called intubation. The tube is then attached to the ventilator, which pumps air slowly into the lungs to control the patient's breathing. Sedation with Precedex can help keep the patient relaxed and comfortable while the ventilator and tube are in place.

Precedex is also used during anesthesia to get a patient ready for a surgery or other medical procedure.

Precedex may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


Before Precedex is given, the doctor should know about all the patient's medical conditions or allergies, and all other medicines the patient is using. Also make sure the doctor knows if the patient is pregnant or breast-feeding.

Before taking this medicine

You should not be treated with Precedex if you are allergic to it.

To make sure Precedex is safe to give, tell the doctor if the patient has:

It is not known whether Precedex will harm an unborn baby. Tell the doctor if the patient is pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The patient should not breast-feed within 10 hours after receiving Precedex. If a breast pump is used during this time, any milk collected should be thrown out and not fed to a baby.

How is Precedex given?

Precedex is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Precedex is given using a continuous infusion device that slowly injects the medicine into the body. This type of infusion keeps the patient sedated around the clock.

The patient's breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and other vital signs will be watched closely while Precedex is given.

When Precedex is discontinued after long-term use over several days, the patient may have withdrawal symptoms. The most common withdrawal symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and agitation. The patient may also have rapid heartbeats and increased blood pressure.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Because Precedex is given in a controlled clinical setting, a missed dose is not likely.

What happens if I overdose?

Since Precedex is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

In the event of an overdose, medical care providers in an intensive care setting are able to quickly treat any symptoms that may occur.

What should I avoid after receiving Precedex?

Follow the doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Precedex side effects

Get emergency medical help if the patient has signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Tell the medical caregivers right away if the person receiving Precedex has:

  • agitation, signs of waking up, or any change in level of consciousness;

  • slow heartbeats;

  • weak or shallow breathing, cough;

  • feeling light-headed or short of breath;

  • muscle weakness; or

  • pale or blue-colored skin.

Certain side effects may occur during the first 48 hours after the patient stops receiving Precedex. Call the doctor right away if the patient has any of the following side effects:

Common side effects of Precedex may include:

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.

What other drugs will affect Precedex?

Precedex can interact with other drugs that can cause drowsiness or slowed breathing, leading to dangerous side effects or death. Ask a doctor before giving the patient a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, prescription cough medicine, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Other drugs may affect Precedex, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of the patient's health care providers about all medicines in use now and any medicine the patient starts or stops using.

Further information

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.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.