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Indications and Safety Information

Precedex is indicated for sedation in nonintubated patients prior to and during surgical and other procedures and in intubated and mechanically ventilated patients during treatment in an intensive care setting.

Precedex should be administered by continuous infusion not to exceed 24 hours.

Caution should be exercised when administering Precedex to patients with advanced heart block and/or severe ventricular dysfunction.

Clinically significant episodes of bradycardia, sinus arrest and hypotension have been associated with Precedex infusion and may necessitate medical intervention.

Please see a more complete description of these and other Warnings and Precautions in the full prescribing information.

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Dosing Basics

In this section:


Precedex dosing1

  • Precedex dosing should be individualized and titrated to the desired clinical effect.
  • Precedex is not indicated for infusions lasting longer than 24 hours.
  • Precedex should be administered using a controlled infusion device.

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Time to onset

  • Following infusion, Precedex exhibits a rapid distribution phase with a half-life of about 6 minutes.1
  • A loading infusion of 1 mcg/kg over a 10-minute period provides onset of sedation typically within 10 to 15 minutes after the start of the infusion.5 If a loading dose is not used, time to onset of the sedative effect may be extended.

For more information, see the Time to onset graph in the What to expect section.

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Initiation and maintenance dosing

Precedex is generally initiated with a loading dose of 1 mcg/kg over 10 minutes for both procedural sedation and ICU sedation.1

However, coadministration of Precedex with anesthetics, sedatives, hypnotics and opioids can enhance the pharmacodynamic effects of these agents. Specific studies have confirmed these effects with sevoflurane, isoflurane, propofol, alfentanil and midazolam.

Therefore, a decrease in the dosage of Precedex or the concomitant agent may be required.

In patients already sedated with other anesthetics, sedatives, hypnotics or opioid analgesics, a loading dose may not be necessary.

Prior to initiating a loading dose, consideration should be given to the existing level of sedation and condition of the patient.

  • For ICU sedation
    Maintenance dosing of Precedex is initiated at 0.4 mcg/kg/hr and titrated over a dose range of 0.2 to 0.7 mcg/kg/hr.1
  • For sedation during surgical and other procedures
    After administration of a 1 mcg/kg loading dose, the maintenance dose of Precedex is initiated at 0.6 mcg/kg/hr and titrated to achieve the desired clinical effect, with doses ranging from 0.2 to 1 mcg/kg/hr.1

In pivotal clinical trials, most patients were started at maintenance doses of 0.4 to 0.6 mcg/kg/hr and titrated up or down to the desired level of sedation.

Dose reductions of concomitant sedative agents or opioid analgesics should be considered, in accordance with their respective dosing instructions and recommendations.

The tables in this section show recommended Precedex dosing for ICU sedation and for sedation during surgical and other procedures.

Precedex dosing1

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Transitioning to Precedex from other IV sedative agents

Transitioning to Precedex involves maintaining a balance between adding Precedex and decreasing other preexisting sedatives and/or opioids due to the additive pharmacodynamic effects. This is important to know so that preexisting sedative agents are not titrated downward too quickly before the sedative effects of Precedex are observed, or too slowly, such that patients are oversedated.

  • Generally, initiate Precedex maintenance infusion at 0.4 mcg/kg/hr. The titration range for Precedex in the ICU is 0.2 to 0.7 mcg/kg/hr.1
  • Full sedative effect of Precedex is generally achieved in 20 to 30 minutes.5
  • Titrate down other concomitant sedatives in parallel to the onset of Precedex per their different pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic profiles.
  • Decreasing/discontinuing the patient’s previous IV sedative therapy prior to the onset of Precedex could lead to periods of undersedation and an increased potential for agitation.
  • Adjusting the Precedex dose too rapidly (i.e., less than 20 to 30 minutes) may not allow Precedex to reach its full sedative effects after each dosage adjustment.5
  • Increasing Precedex dosages too rapidly could lead to oversedation and an increased potential for side effects.1

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Important pharmacodynamic properties of Precedex to understand when transitioning from other IV sedatives

  • Coadministration of anesthetics, sedatives, hypnotics and opioids with Precedex can enhance the pharmacodynamic effects of these agents and a decrease in the dosage of Precedex or the concomitant medication may be required when initiating Precedex. Specific studies have confirmed these effects with sevoflurane, isoflurane, propofol, alfentanil and midazolam.1
  • Because of the potential for enhanced pharmacodynamic effects of Precedex in combination with other IV sedatives, it is especially important to wait 20 to 30 minutes after each dosage titration to determine the extent of each dosage modification so as to avoid oversedation and the potential for an increased incidence of side effects.1,5
  • With Precedex, the time to onset of some sedative effect is generally 10 to 15 minutes when a 1 mcg/kg loading dose is administered over a 10-minute period. However, if a loading dose is not used, the initiation of a sedative effect may extend beyond 15 minutes.5

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