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Azium injection

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Description

Azium  injection (dexamethasone) Solution is a synthetic analogue of prednisolone, having similar but more potent anti-inflammatory therapeutic action and diversified hormonal and metabolic effects. Modification of the basic corticoid structure as achieved in AZIUM Solution offers enhanced anti-inflammatory effect compared to older corticosteroids. The dosage of AZIUM Solution required is markedly lower than that of prednisone and prednisolone.

AZIUM Solution is not species-specific; however, the veterinarian should read the sections on INDICATIONS, DOSAGE, SIDE EFFECTS, CONTRAINDICATIONS, PRECAUTIONS, and WARNINGS before this drug is used.

AZIUM Solution is intended for intravenous or intramuscular administration. Each mL contains 2 mg dexamethasone, 500 mg polyethylene glycol 400, 9 mg benzyl alcohol, 1.8 mg methylparaben and 0.2 mg propylparaben as preservatives, 4.75% alcohol, HCl to adjust pH to approximately 4.9, and water for injection q.s.

 

Brand Name: Azium, Voren

Available in 0.25 mg, 0.50 mg, 0.75 mg, 1 mg, 1.5 mg, 2 mg, 4 mg and 6 mg tablets; oral solution; several eye drop formulations

Uses of this Medication

Dexamethasone is a member of the glucocorticoid class of hormones. This means they are steroids but, unlike the anabolic steroids that we hear about regarding sports medicine, these are catabolic steroids. Instead of building the body up, they are designed to break down stored resources (fats, sugars and proteins) so that they may be used as fuels in times of stress. Cortisone would be an example of a related hormone with which most people are familiar, though cortisone (more correctly called cortisol) is a natural hormone produced by the body’s adrenal glands, whereas dexamethasone is synthetic.

In most cases, we do not use glucocorticoids for their influences on glucose and protein metabolism; we use them because in higher doses they are broadly anti-inflammatory. Their uses fit into several groups:

  • Anti-inflammatory – especially for joint pain and itchy skin.
  • Immune-suppression – treatment of conditions where the immune system is destructively hyperactive. Higher doses are required to actually suppress the immune system.
  • Cancer chemotherapy – although usually prednisolone, another steroid, is favored for this use.
  • Central nervous system disorders – usually after a disk episode to relieve swelling in the spinal cord.
  • Blood calcium reduction – in medical conditions where blood calcium is dangerously high and treatment is needed to reduce levels to normal.
  • Dexamethasone also has some use in pregnancy termination in dogs.

Side Effects

Dexamethasone is commonly used for several weeks or even months at a time to get a chronic process under control. Once the condition is controlled, it is important that the dose be tapered to the lowest effective dosing frequency once the condition is controlled. The reason for this is that body will perceive these hormones and not produce any of its own. In time, the adrenal glands will atrophy so that when the medication is discontinued, the patient will be unable to respond to any stressful situation. A blood sugar crisis can result. By using the medication every other day, this allows the body’s own adrenal glands to remain active.

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Glucocorticoid hormone use can be irritating or even ulcerating to the stomach or intestine at higher doses.

Long-term steroid use strongly predisposes a patient to latent urinary tract infection. Such infections may not have apparent symptoms because the inflammation responsible for the symptoms is suppressed by the steroid.

Glucocorticoids are called diabetogenic hormones, which means that with long-term use or in predisposed patients they can induce diabetes mellitus. They should not be used in patients who already have diabetes mellitus.

Interactions with other Drugs

Glucocorticoid hormones should not be used in combination with medications of the NSAID class (i.e. aspirincarprofenmeloxicam, etc.) as the combination of these medications could lead to bleeding in the stomach or intestine. Ulceration could occur.

Macrolide antibiotics (such as clarithromycin or erythromycin) can increase dexamethasone blood levels.  Use of the antifungal ketoconazole can have a similar interaction.

Diuretics that work by reducing blood potassium levels can create significantly low blood potassium levels when combined with dexamethasone.

Concerns and Cautions

Dexamethasone is considered to be a long-acting steroid, meaning that a dose lasts about two or two-and-a-half days. For this reason an every other day schedule is excessive for dexamethasone; every third day or less is the goal for dexamethasone.

The same salt retention that accounts for excessive thirst and urination may also be a problem for heart failure patients or other patients who require sodium restriction.

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