UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: Droperidol as an alternative parenteral antiemetic

Keywords: droperidol, antiemetic, qt prolongation (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/31/2012 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD (Emailed: 2/4/2012) (Updated: 2/4/2012)
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In the setting of critical drug shortages of ondansetron, prochlorperazine, and metoclopramide, consider droperidol as a viable option for the treatment of nausea and vomiting.

Although it is similar to haloperidol, it is actually FDA-approved for “prevention and/or treatment of nausea and vomiting from surgical and diagnostic procedures” (unlike haloperidol). Ironically, it is not approved for agitation, although it can be used for that indication.

Dosing for antiemesis is 1.25 to 2.5 mg IV/IM. Additional doses of 0.625 to 1.25 mg can be administered to achieve desired effect. Onset is 3-5 minutes and duration of effect is 2-4 hours. It should be administered via slow IV push over 2 minutes.

Why is it not commonly used? Black Box Warning for QTc prolongation. An ECG is a must prior to administration. Also be cautious in patients who are on other medications that can prolong the QT interval (