Medically reviewed on March 25, 2018.
(pye loe KAR peen)
- Pilocarpine HCl
- Pilocarpine Hydrochloride
Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling.
Tablet, Oral, as hydrochloride:
Salagen: 5 mg
Salagen: 7.5 mg [contains fd&c blue #2 aluminum lake]
Generic: 5 mg, 7.5 mg
Brand Names: U.S.
- Cholinergic Agonist
Binds to muscarinic (cholinergic) receptors, causing an increase in secretion of exocrine glands (such as salivary and sweat glands) and increase tone of smooth muscle in gastrointestinal and urinary tracts
Onset of Action
20 minutes; Maximum effect: 1 hour
Time to Peak
Serum: 0.85 to 1.25 hours (increased to 1.47 hours with a high-fat meal)
Duration of Action
3 to 5 hours
0.76 to 1.35 hours; Mild to moderate hepatic impairment: 2.1 hours
Special Populations: Hepatic Function Impairment
Clearance decreased ~30% in patients with mild to moderate impairment, resulting in an increase in Cmax and half-life.
Special Populations: Gender
Elderly women had Cmax and AUC approximately twice that of elderly and younger men.
Use: Labeled Indications
Xerostomia: Treatment of symptoms of dry mouth from salivary gland hypofunction caused by radiotherapy for cancer of the head and neck; treatment of symptoms of dry mouth in patients with Sjögren syndrome.
Hypersensitivity to pilocarpine or any component of the formulation; uncontrolled asthma; when miosis is undesirable (eg, acute iritis, angle-closure glaucoma)
Associated with head and neck cancer: Initial: 5 mg 3 times daily; may titrate dose based on response and tolerability; usual dosage range: 15 to 30 mg/day; maximum: 10 mg/dose
Sjögren syndrome: 5 mg 4 times daily
Refer to adult dosing.
Dosing: Renal Impairment
There are no dosage adjustments provided in the manufacturer’s labeling.
Dosing: Hepatic Impairment
Mild impairment (Child-Pugh score 5 to 6): No dosage adjustment necessary.
Moderate impairment (Child-Pugh score 7 to 9): Initial: 5 mg twice daily; adjust dose based on response and tolerability.
Severe impairment (Child-Pugh score 10 to 15): Use is not recommended.
Avoid administering with high-fat meal. Ensure adequate water intake (dehydration may develop with use).
Store at 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F).
Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Cholinergic Agonists. Monitor therapy
Beta-Blockers: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Cholinergic Agonists. Of particular concern are the potential for cardiac conduction abnormalities and bronchoconstriction. Management: Administer these agents in combination with caution, and monitor for conduction disturbances. Avoid methacholine with any beta blocker due to the potential for additive bronchoconstriction. Monitor therapy
Cimetropium: Cholinergic Agonists may diminish the anticholinergic effect of Cimetropium. Monitor therapy
Cardiovascular: Flushing (8% to 13%)
Central nervous system: Chills (3% to 15%), dizziness (5% to 12%), headache (11%)
Gastrointestinal: Nausea (6% to 15%)
Genitourinary: Urinary frequency (9% to 12%)
Neuromuscular & skeletal: Weakness (2% to 12%)
Respiratory: Rhinitis (5% to 14%)
Miscellaneous: Diaphoresis (29% to 68%)
1% to 10%:
Cardiovascular: Edema (<1% to 5%), facial edema, hypertension (3%), palpitation, tachycardia
Central nervous system: Pain (4%), fever, somnolence
Dermatologic: Pruritus, rash
Gastrointestinal: Diarrhea (4% to 7%), dyspepsia (7%), vomiting (3% to 4%), constipation, flatulence, glossitis, salivation increased, stomatitis, taste perversion
Genitourinary: Vaginitis, urinary incontinence
Neuromuscular & skeletal: Myalgias, tremor
Ocular: Lacrimation (6%), amblyopia (4%), abnormal vision, blurred vision, conjunctivitis
Respiratory: Cough increased, dysphagia, epistaxis, sinusitis
Miscellaneous: Allergic reaction, voice alteration
<1%: Abnormal dreams, abnormal thinking, alopecia, angina pectoris, anorexia, anxiety, aphasia, appetite increased, arrhythmia, arthralgia, arthritis, bilirubinemia, body odor, bone disorder, bradycardia, breast pain, bronchitis, cataract, cholelithiasis, colitis, confusion, contact dermatitis, cyst, deafness, depression, dry eyes, dry mouth, dry skin, dyspnea, dysuria, ear pain, ECG abnormality, eczema, emotional lability, eructation, erythema nodosum, esophagitis, exfoliative dermatitis, eye hemorrhage, eye pain, gastritis, gastroenteritis, gastrointestinal disorder, gingivitis, glaucoma, hematuria, hepatitis, herpes simplex, hiccup, hyperkinesias, hypoesthesia, hypoglycemia, hypotension, hypothermia, insomnia, intracranial hemorrhage, laryngismus, laryngitis, leg cramps, leukopenia, liver function test abnormal, lymphadenopathy, mastitis, melena, menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, migraine, moniliasis, myasthenia, MI, neck pain, photosensitivity reaction, nervousness, ovarian disorder, pancreatitis, paresthesia, parotid gland enlargement, peripheral edema, platelet abnormality, pneumonia, pyuria, salivary gland enlargement, salpingitis, seborrhea, skin ulcer, speech disorder, sputum increased, stridor, syncope, taste loss, tendon disorder, tenosynovitis, thrombocythemia, thrombocytopenia, thrombosis, tongue disorder, twitching, urethral pain, urinary impairment, urinary urgency, vaginal hemorrhage, vaginal moniliasis, vesiculobullous rash, WBC abnormality, yawning
• Cardiovascular disease: Use with caution in patients with significant cardiovascular disease; may have difficulty compensating for transient changes in hemodynamics or rhythm induced by pilocarpine.
• Cholelithiasis: Use with caution in patients with cholelithiasis or biliary tract disease.
• Hepatic impairment: Use with caution in patients with moderate impairment; dosage adjustment recommended; use is not recommended in patients with severe impairment.
• Nephrolithiasis: Use caution in patients with a history of nephrolithiasis; may induce smooth muscle spasms, precipitating renal colic or ureteral reflux in patients with nephrolithiasis.
• Respiratory disorders: Use with caution in patients with controlled asthma, chronic bronchitis, or COPD; may increase airway resistance, bronchial smooth muscle tone, and bronchial secretions.
Pregnancy Risk Factor
Adverse events have been observed in some animal reproduction studies.
• Discuss specific use of drug and side effects with patient as it relates to treatment. (HCAHPS: During this hospital stay, were you given any medicine that you had not taken before? Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for? How often did hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?)
• Patient may experience flushing, loss of strength and energy, chills, rhinorrhea, or polyuria. Have patient report immediately to prescriber severe dizziness, passing out, shortness of breath, excessive weight gain, swelling of arms or legs, tachycardia, bradycardia, abnormal heartbeat, severe nausea, severe vomiting, vision changes, eye pain, severe eye irritation, severe headache, sweating a lot, severe diarrhea, confusion, or tremors (HCAHPS).
• Educate patient about signs of a significant reaction (eg, wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat). Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Patient should consult prescriber for additional questions.
Intended Use and Disclaimer: Should not be printed and given to patients. This information is intended to serve as a concise initial reference for health care professionals to use when discussing medications with a patient. You must ultimately rely on your own discretion, experience, and judgment in diagnosing, treating, and advising patients.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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- Drug class: cholinergic agonists
Other brands: Salagen