Argipressin (Pitressin)

How does it work?

Argipressin is similar to a naturally occuring hormone present in the body, also known as antidiuretic hormone (ADH) or vasopressin. ADH has two main effects in the body. Firstly, it acts on receptors in the kidney to retain water in the body, which helps to prevent excessive loss of water in the urine. Secondly, ADH causes narrowing of blood vessels (vasoconstriction), thereby limiting blood flow to a particular area of the body. In diabetes insipidus, there is a reduction in the function of ADH resulting in an increase in water lost from the body through urine. This results in the production of large amounts of dilute urine. Argipressin is used in the treatment of this disorder as it acts on the ADH receptors in the kidneys, mimicking the effect of ADH and preventing dehydration caused by excessive loss of water. Argipressin is commonly used to stop bleeding of varices in the food pipe (oesophagus). Varices are fragile distended veins that can occur in various parts of the body such as the oesophagus. This is caused by an increase in blood pressure in certain diseases such as severe liver disease. These fragile varices can rupture and lead to life threatening bleeding. Argipressin is therefore given to narrow blood vessels, and so restricting blood flow to the varices and stopping the bleeding.

What is it used for?

  • A disease in which an individual produces large amounts of dilute urine and is constantly thirsty (diabetes insipidus)
  • Bleeding from dilated veins in the oesophagus (oesophageal varices)


  • This medicine may cause drowsiness. If affected do not drive or operate machinery.
  • This medicine may produce water overload (water intoxication). Individuals are advised to watch out for and report immediately, early signs of drowsiness, listlessness and headaches.

Use with caution in

  • Asthma
  • Disease involving the blood vessels (vascular disease)
  • Diseases affected by an increase in the amount of water retained in the body
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Long-term inflammation of the kidney (chronic nephritis)
  • Migraine

Not to be used in

  • No known conditions

This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.

  • This medicine is not recommended for use in pregnancy unless considered essential by your doctor. Seek medical advice from your doctor.
  • The safety of this medicine during breastfeeding has not been established. Seek medical advice from your doctor.

Side effects

Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Burping or belching
  • Shaking, usually of the hands (tremor)
  • Sweating
  • Balance problems involving the inner ear (vertigo)
  • Paleness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • An extreme allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • Itchy rash (urticaria)
  • Narrowing of the airways (bronchoconstriction)
  • Inadequate blood supply to a part of the body e.g. limbs, causing pain (ishaemia)

The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the drug's manufacturer.For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.

How can this medicine affect other medicines?

No known significant interactions have been reported.

Other medicines containing the same active ingredients