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pancuronium bromide injection, USP Clinical Pharmacology


Pancuronium bromide is a nondepolarizing neuromuscular blocking agent possessing all of the characteristic pharmacological actions of this class of drugs (curariform). It acts by competing for cholinergic receptors at the motor end-plate. The antagonism to acetylcholine is inhibited; and neuromuscular block is reversed by anticholinesterase agents such as pyridostigmine, neostigmine, and edrophonium. Pancuronium bromide is approximately 1/3 less potent than vecuronium and approximately 5 times as potent as d-tubocurarine: the duration of neuromuscular blockage produced by pancuronium bromide is longer than that of vecuronium at initially equipotent doses.

The ED95 (dose required to produce 95% suppression of muscle twitch response) is approximately 0.05 mg/kg under balanced anesthesia and 0.03 mg/kg under halothane anesthesia. These doses produce effective skeletal muscle relaxation (as judged by time from maximum effect to 25% recovery of control twitch height) for approximately 22 minutes; the duration from injection to 90% recovery of control twitch height is approximately 65 minutes. The intubating dose of 0.1 mg/kg (balanced anesthesia) will effectively abolish twitch response within approximately 4 minutes; time from injection to 25% recovery from this dose is approximately 100 minutes.

Supplemental doses to maintain muscle relaxation slightly increase the magnitude of block and significantly increase the duration of block. The use of a peripheral nerve stimulator is of benefit in assessing the degree of neuromuscular blockade.

The most characteristic circulatory effects of pancuronium, studied under halothane anesthesia, are a moderate rise in heart rate, mean arterial pressure and cardiac output; systemic vascular resistance is not changed significantly, and central venous pressure may fall slightly. The heart rate rise is inversely related to the rate immediately before administration of pancuronium, is blocked by prior administration of atropine, and appears unrelated to the concentration of halothane or dose of pancuronium.

Data on histamine assays and available clinical experience indicate that hypersensitivity reactions such as bronchospasm, flushing, redness, hypotension, tachycardia, and other reactions commonly associated with histamine release are rare. (See ADVERSE REACTIONS).


The elimination half-life of pancuronium has been reported to range between 89–161 minutes. The volume of distribution ranges from 241–280 mL/kg; and plasma clearance is approximately 1.1–1.9 mL/minute/kg. Approximately 40% of the total dose of pancuronium has been recovered in urine as unchanged pancuronium and its metabolites while approximately 11% has been recovered in bile. As much as 25% of an injected dose may be recovered as 3-hydroxy metabolite, which is half as potent a blocking agent as pancuronium. Less than 5% of the injected dose is recovered as 17-hydroxy metabolite and 3,17-dihydroxy metabolite, which have been judged to be approximately 50 times less potent than pancuronium. Pancuronium exhibits strong binding to gamma globulin and moderate binding to albumin. Approximately 13% is unbound to plasma protein. In patients with cirrhosis the volume of distribution is increased by approximately 50%, the plasma clearance is decreased by approximately 22%, and the elimination half-life is doubled. Similar results were noted in patients with biliary obstruction, except that plasma clearance was less than half the normal rate. The initial total dose to achieve adequate relaxation may, thus, be high in patients with hepatic and/or biliary tract dysfunction, while the duration of action is greater than usual.

The elimination half-life is doubled, and the plasma clearance is reduced by approximately 60% in patients with renal failure. The volume of distribution is variable, and in some cases elevated. The rate of recovery of neuromuscular blockade, as determined by peripheral nerve stimulation is variable and sometimes very much slower than normal.

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