Desmopressin 30 years in clinical use: a safety review

Curr Drug Saf. 2007 Sep;2(3):232-8. doi: 10.2174/157488607781668891.


Desmopressin acetate is the synthetic analogue of the antidiuretic hormone arginine vasopressin. It has been employed clinically for >30 years in a range of formulations: intranasal solution (since 1972), injectable solution (since 1981), tablets (since 1987), and most recently, an oral lyophilisate (since 2005). The antidiuretic properties of desmopressin have led to its use in polyuric conditions including primary nocturnal enuresis, nocturia, and diabetes insipidus. While a large body of clinical data is available for desmopressin, and despite its widespread use, comprehensive reviews of the safety of desmopressin are lacking (although some case series have attempted to correlate patient and/or dosing characteristics with the occurrence of adverse reactions). The purpose of this paper is to review the safety of desmopressin, based on analyses of both published data (MedLine) and of adverse reactions reported to Ferring Pharmaceuticals, the major manufacturer of desmopressin. Based on the findings, suggested strategies to reduce the risk of adverse reactions are proposed. Treatment with intranasal and oral formulations of desmopressin is generally well tolerated, and side effects are usually minor. The risk of hyponatraemia, although small, can be reduced by adhering to the indications, dosing recommendations and precautions when prescribing desmopressin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems*
  • Antidiuretic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antidiuretic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antidiuretic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Deamino Arginine Vasopressin / administration & dosage
  • Deamino Arginine Vasopressin / adverse effects*
  • Deamino Arginine Vasopressin / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Hyponatremia / chemically induced
  • Nocturia / drug therapy
  • Nocturnal Enuresis / drug therapy
  • Risk Factors


  • Antidiuretic Agents
  • Deamino Arginine Vasopressin