Review article: Dexmedetomidine: Does it have potential in palliative medicine?

Eric Prommer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Dexmedetomidine, is a α 2 adrenergic agonist approved by the Food and Drug administration for sedation and analgesia. A highly potent α2 adrenergic agonist, it has quick onset of action, with peak effects within 1 hour of administration. It is metabolized in the liver and eliminated in the urine as a glucuronide. Dexmedetomidine is a substrate and inhibitor of cytochrome oxidase 2D6, but clinical evidence of significant drug interactions is lacking. Clinical trials suggest efficacy for the treatment of delirium in the intensive care unit setting with efficacy comparable to haloperidol and benzodiazepines. Dexmedetomidine also has an opioid-sparing action and can act to enhance analgesia. The purpose of this article is to review the pharmacodynamics and pharmacology of dexmedetomidine, and examine its potential use in the palliative care population, especially with regard to the management of delirium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-283
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011


  • cytochrome oxidase
  • delirium
  • dexmedetomidine
  • pain
  • sedation
  • α-adrenergic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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