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Generic name: vasopressin
Brand names: Vasostrict, Pitressin
Dosage forms: injectable solution (20 units/mL); intravenous solution (1 unit/mL-D5%; 20 units/100 mL-D5%; 20 units/mL)
Drug class: Antidiuretic hormones

Medically reviewed by  A Ras MD.

What is vasopressin used for?

Vasopressin is a prescription medicine that is used to treat low blood pressure. Vasopressin may be given to you for other reasons. Talk to your doctor.


Vasopressin is a polypeptide hormone. Vasopressin injection, USP is a sterile, aqueous solution of synthetic arginine vasopressin for intravenous administration.

The 1 mL solution contains vasopressin 20 units/mL, 1.36 mg sodium acetate buffer and Water for Injection, USP.  Sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid are included to adjust to a pH of 3.8.

The chemical name of vasopressin is Cyclo (1-6) L-Cysteinyl-L-Tyrosyl-L-Phenylalanyl-L-Glutaminyl-L-Asparaginyl-L-Cysteinyl-L-Prolyl-L-Arginyl-L-Glycinamide. It is a white to off-white amorphous powder, freely soluble in water. The structural formula is:

chemical formula

  • Molecular Formula: C46H65N15O12S2           
  •  Molecular Weight: 1084.23
    One mg is equivalent to 530 units.

Mechanism of Action

Vasopressin causes vasoconstriction by binding to V1 receptors on vascular smooth muscle coupled to the Gq/11-phospholipase C-phosphatidyl-inositol-triphosphate pathway, resulting in the release of intracellular calcium. In addition, vasopressin stimulates antidiuresis via stimulation of V2 receptors which are coupled to adenyl cyclase.

Before taking vasopressin, tell your doctor:

  • If you are allergic to vasopressin; any part of this medicine; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
  • If you have kidney disease.

This medicine may interact with other drugs or health problems.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take vasopressin with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take vasopressin?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take vasopressin. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • Talk with your doctor before you drink alcohol.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan on getting pregnant, or are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks to you and the baby.

How is vasopressin best taken?

Use vasopressin as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • It is given as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Call your doctor to find out what to do.

What are the side effects of vasopressin that I need to call my doctor about immediately?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of low sodium levels like headache, trouble focusing, memory problems, feeling confused, weakness, seizures, or change in balance.
  • Any unexplained bruising or bleeding.
  • Throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Black, tarry, or bloody stools.
  • Very bad belly pain.
  • Chest pain or pressure.
  • Fast, slow, or abnormal heartbeat.
  • Shortness of breath, a big weight gain, or swelling in the arms or legs.
  • Not able to pass urine or change in how much urine is passed.
  • Change in skin color to black or purple.
  • Skin sores.
  • Feeling sleepy.
  • Headache.

What are some other side effects of vasopressin?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If overdose is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out vasopressin?

  • If you need to store vasopressin at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.




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