Hydroxocobalamin as a cyanide antidote: safety, efficacy and pharmacokinetics in heavily smoking normal volunteers

J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1993;31(2):277-94. doi: 10.3109/15563659309000395.


The safety, efficacy and pharmacokinetic parameters of 5 g of hydroxocobalamin given intravenously, alone or in combination with 12.5 g of sodium thiosulfate, were evaluated in healthy adult men who were heavy smokers. Sodium thiosulfate caused nausea, vomiting, and localized burning, muscle cramping, or twitching at the infusion site. Hydroxocobalamin was associated with a transient reddish discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes, and urine, and when administered alone produced mean elevations of 13.6% in systolic and 25.9% in diastolic blood pressure, with a concomitant 16.3% decrease in heart rate. No other clinically significant adverse effects were noted. Hydroxocobalamin alone decreased whole blood cyanide levels by 59% and increased urinary cyanide excretion. Pharmacokinetic parameters of hydroxocobalamin were best defined in the group who received both antidotes: t1/2 (alpha), 0.52 h; t1/2 (beta), 2.83 h; Vd (beta), 0.24 L/kg; and mean peak serum concentration 753 mcg/mL (560 mumol/L) at 0-50 minutes after completion of infusion. Hydroxocobalamin is safe when administered in a 5 gram intravenous dose, and effectively decreases the low whole blood cyanide levels found in heavy smokers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antidotes / administration & dosage
  • Antidotes / adverse effects*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cyanides / blood
  • Cyanides / poisoning*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hydroxocobalamin / administration & dosage
  • Hydroxocobalamin / adverse effects*
  • Hydroxocobalamin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Safety
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Thiosulfates / administration & dosage
  • Thiosulfates / adverse effects*
  • Thiosulfates / blood


  • Antidotes
  • Cyanides
  • Drug Combinations
  • Thiosulfates
  • sodium thiosulfate
  • Hydroxocobalamin