The role of procaine in adverse reactions to procaine penicillin in horses

C. B. Chapman, P. Courage, I. L. Nielsen, B. R. Sitaram, P. J. Huntington

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Procaine penicillin is a commonly used antibiotic in equine medicine but its use is associated with a substantial incidence of adverse reactions. Soluble procaine concentrations were determined by HPLC in several commercially available procaine penicillin preparations, including some that were involved in adverse reactions. The mean (+/- SEM) soluble procaine concentrations in the veterinary preparations was 20.18 +/- 5.07 mg/ml, which was higher than the concentration in the only procaine penicillin preparation for use in humans in Australia of 7.3 mg/ml. Heating the veterinary procaine penicillin preparations to 50 degrees C for 1 day led to a significant (P less than 0.01) increase in the amount of soluble procaine. Heating to 50 degrees C for 7 days also produced a significant (P less than 0.02) increase. Soluble procaine tended to return to baseline concentrations when veterinary procaine penicillin preparations were heated to 50 degrees C for 2 days then stored for 7 days at room temperature. Administration of procaine HCl intravenously (IV) at 2, 5, and 10 mg/kg produced behavioural, locomotor and vascular reactions, which were clinically similar to those reported in adverse reactions to procaine penicillin. The more severe reactions occurred at higher doses, although different horses responded variably at the same dose. Some adverse reactions lead to recumbency but none were fatal. The blood procaine concentrations 1 min after IV administration averaged 19.0 +/- 12.6 and 25.3 +/- 16 micrograms/ml at 2.5 mg/kg and 5 mg/kg, respectively. Ten min after administration, blood procaine concentrations were significantly higher (P less than 0.001) in the 5 mg/kg group than in the 2.5 mg/kg group. Intramuscular (IM) procaine HCl at 5 mg/kg produced significantly lower (P less than 0.001) blood concentrations than similar IV doses, and, in contrast to the IV doses, the amount of procaine in the blood was significantly higher 5 and 10 min after administration than it was after 1 min. Mild excitatory reactions in 4/5 horses were noted 5 to 10 min after IM administration. Administration of diazepam 20 s before procaine HCl prevented the excitatory adverse reaction in 2/2 horses, but administration after the procaine did not influence the outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-133
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1992

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