Pharmacological characteristics of metamizole

Pol J Vet Sci. 2014;17(1):207-14. doi: 10.2478/pjvs-2014-0030.


Metamizole (dipyrone) is a popular analgetic, non-opioid drug, commonly used in human and veterinary medicine. In some cases, this agent is still incorrectly classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Metamizole is a pro-drug, which spontaneously breaks down after oral administration to structurally related pyrazolone compounds. Apart from its analgesic effect, the medication is an antipyretic and spasmolytic agent. The mechanism responsible for the analgesic effect is a complex one, and most probably rests on the inhibition of a central cyclooxygenase-3 and activation of the opioidergic system and cannabinoid system. Metamizole can block both PG-dependent and PG-independent pathways of fever induced by LPS, which suggests that this drug has a profile of antipyretic action distinctly different from that of NSAIDs. The mechanism responsible for the spasmolytic effect of metamizole is associated with the inhibited release of intracellular Ca2+ as a result of the reduced synthesis of inositol phosphate. Metamizole is predominantly applied in the therapy of pain of different etiology, of spastic conditions, especially affecting the digestive tract, and of fever refractory to other treatments. Co-administration of morphine and metamizole produces superadditive, antinociceptive effects. Metamizole is a relatively safe pharmaceutical preparation although it is not completely free from undesirable effects. Among these side-effects, the most serious one that raises most controversy is the myelotoxic effect. It seems that in the past the risk of metamizole-induced agranulocytosis was exaggerated. Despite the evidence showing no risk of teratogenic and embryotoxic effects, the drug must not be administered to pregnant women, although it is allowed to be given to pregnant and lactating animals. This paper seeks to describe the characteristics of metamizole in the light of current knowledge.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Dipyrone / administration & dosage
  • Dipyrone / adverse effects
  • Dipyrone / pharmacokinetics
  • Dipyrone / pharmacology*
  • Humans


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Dipyrone