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Hyoscine hydrobromide

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Title: Hyoscine hydrobromide  
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Subject: Tropane alkaloids, Mind control, Deliriants, Plant toxins, WHO Model List of Essential Medicines
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Hyoscine hydrobromide

Systematic (IUPAC) name
(–)-(S)-3-Hydroxy-2-phenylpropionic acid (1R,2R,4S,7S,9S)-9-methyl-3-oxa-9-azatricyclo[,4]non-7-yl ester
Clinical data
Trade names Transdermscop
Pregnancy cat.
Legal status
Routes transdermal, ocular, oral, subcutaneous, intravenous, sublingual, rectal, buccal transmucousal, intramuscular
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability 0.13-8% (Oral),[1][2] 3% (Rectal)[1]
Metabolism Hepatic (liver)[2]
Half-life 4.5 hours[3]
Excretion Renal[2]
CAS number  YesY
ATC code A04 N05, S01
IUPHAR ligand
ChemSpider  YesY
Chemical data
Formula C17H21NO4 
Mol. mass 303.353 g/mol

Scopolamine (USAN), hyoscine (BAN) also known as levo-duboisine or burundanga,[4] sold as Scopoderm, is a tropane alkaloid drug with muscarinic antagonist effects. It is among the secondary metabolites of plants from Solanaceae (nightshade) family of plants, such as henbane, jimson weed (Datura), angel's trumpets (Brugmansia), and corkwood (Duboisia).[5][6] Scopolamine exerts its effects by acting as a competitive antagonist at muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, specifically M1 receptors; it is thus classified as an anticholinergic, antimuscarinic drug. (See the article on the parasympathetic nervous system for details of this physiology.)

Its use in medicine is relatively limited, with its chief uses being in the treatment of motion sickness and postoperative nausea and vomiting.[2][7][8]

Scopolamine is named after the plant genus Scopolia.[6] The name "hyoscine" is from the scientific name for henbane, Hyoscyamus niger.[9]


  • Medical use 1
  • Adverse effects 2
    • Overdose 2.1
  • Medication interactions 3
  • Biosynthesis in plants 4
  • History 5
  • Methods of administration 6
  • Use in pregnancy 7
  • Use in breastfeeding 8
  • Recreational use 9
  • Use in the elderly population 10
  • Scopolamine-related hospitalizations 11
  • Interrogation and criminal use 12
  • Research 13
    • Intravenous infusions 13.1
    • Oral scopolamine 13.2
  • References 14

Medical use

Scopolamine has a number of uses in medicine where it is used to treat:[10][11]

and is sometimes used as a premedication (especially to reduce respiratory tract secretions) to surgery, mostly commonly via injection.[10][11]

Adverse effects

Adverse effect incidence:[1][2][7][8][14]

Uncommon (0.1%-1% incidence) adverse effects include
Rare (<0.1% incidence) adverse effects include
Unknown frequency adverse effects include


Physostigmine is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, and has been used as an antidote to treat the CNS depression symptoms of scopolamine overdose.[15] Other than this supportive treatment, gastric lavage and induced emesis (vomiting) are usually recommended as treatments for overdoses.[14] The symptoms of overdose include:[1][14]

Medication interactions

Due to interactions with metabolism of other drugs, scopolamine can cause significant unwanted side effects when taken with other medications. Specific attention should be paid to other medications in the same pharmacologic class as scopolamine, also known as anti-cholinergics. The following medications could potentially interact with the metabolism of scopolamine: analgesics/pain medications, ethanol, zolpidem, thiazide diuretics, buprenorphine, anti-cholinergic drugs such as tiotropium, etc.

Biosynthesis in plants

The steps of the biosynthesis of scopolamine are:


One of the earlier alkaloids isolated from plant sources, scopolamine has been in use in its purified forms (such as various salts, including hydrochloride, hydrobromide, hydroiodide and sulfate), since its isolation by the German scientist Albert Ladenburg in 1880, and as various preparations from its plant-based form since antiquity and perhaps prehistoric times. Following the description of the structure and activity of scopolamine by Ladenburg, the search for synthetic analogues of and methods for total synthesis of scopolamine and/or atropine in the 1930s and 1940s resulted in the discovery of diphenhydramine, an early antihistamine and the prototype of its chemical subclass of these drugs, and pethidine, the first fully synthetic opioid analgesic, known as Dolatin and Demerol amongst many other trade names.

Scopolamine was used in conjunction with morphine, oxycodone, or other opioids from before 1900 into the 1960s to put mothers in labor into a kind of "twilight sleep". The analgesia from scopolamine plus a strong opioid is deep enough to allow higher doses to be used as a form of anaesthesia.

Scopolamine mixed with oxycodone (Eukodal) and ephedrine was marketed by Merck as SEE (from the German initials of the ingredients) and Scophedal starting in 1928, and the mixture is sometimes mixed on site on rare occasions in the area of its greatest historical usage, namely Germany and Central Europe.

Scopolamine was also one of the active ingredients in Asthmador, an over-the-counter (OTC) smoking preparation marketed in the 1950s and '60s claiming to combat asthma and bronchitis. In November 1990, the US Food and Drug Administration forced OTC products with scopolamine and several hundred other ingredients that had allegedly not been proved effective off the market. Scopolamine shared a small segment of the OTC sleeping pill market with diphenhydramine, phenyltoloxamine, pyrilamine, doxylamine, and other first-generation antihistamines, many of which are still used for this purpose in drugs such as Sominex, Tylenol PM, NyQuil, etc.

Methods of administration

Scopolamine can be administered orally, subcutaneously, ophthalmically and intravenously, as well as via a transdermal patch.[18] The transdermal patch (e.g., Transderm Scōp) for prevention of nausea and motion sickness employs scopolamine base, and is effective for up to three days.[19] The oral, ophthalmic, and intravenous forms have shorter half-lives and are usually found in the form scopolamine hydrobromide (for example in Scopace, soluble 0.4 mg tablets or Donnatal).

NASA is currently developing a nasal administration method. With a precise dosage, the NASA spray formulation has been shown to work faster and more reliably than the oral form.[20]

Use in pregnancy

Scopolamine crosses the placenta and is a pregnancy Category C medication, meaning that risk to the fetus cannot be ruled out [Either studies in animals have revealed adverse effects on the fetus (teratogenic or embryocidal effects or other) and there are no controlled studies in women, or studies in women and animals are not available. Drugs should be given only if the potential benefits justify the potential risk to the fetus]. It may cause respiratory depression and/or neonatal hemorrhage when used during pregnancy and some animal studies did report adverse events. Transdermal scopolamine has been used as an adjunct to epidural anesthesia for cesarean delivery without adverse CNS effects on the newborn. Except when used prior to cesarean section, use during pregnancy only if the benefit to the mother outweighs the potential risk to the fetus.

Use in breastfeeding

Scopolamine enters breast milk via secretion. Although no human studies exists to document the safety of scopolamine while nursing, the manufacturer recommends caution be used if scopolamine be administered to a nursing woman.[21]

Recreational use

While it is occasionally used recreationally for its hallucinogenic properties, the experiences are often mentally and physically extremely unpleasant, and frequently physically dangerous, so repeated use is rare.[22]

Use in the elderly population

Scopolamine use in the elderly can increase the likelihood of experiencing adverse effects from the drug. This phenomenon is especially true of the elder population who are also concurrently on several other medications. Avoid scopolamine use in this age group due to potent anticholinergic adverse effects and uncertain effectiveness.[23]

Scopolamine-related hospitalizations

About one in five emergency room admissions for poisoning in Bogotá, Colombia have been attributed to scopolamine.[4] In June 2008, more than 20 people were hospitalized with psychosis in Norway after ingesting counterfeit Rohypnol tablets containing scopolamine.[24]

Interrogation and criminal use

The effects of scopolamine were studied by criminologists in the early 20th century.[25] In 2009, it was proved that Czechoslovak communist State Security secret police used scopolamine at least three times to obtain confessions from alleged anti-state conspirators.[26] Because of a number of undesirable side effects, scopolamine was shortly disqualified as a truth serum.[27]

In 1910, scopolamine was detected in the remains believed to be those of Cora Crippen, wife of Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, and was accepted at the time as the cause of her death, since her husband was known to have bought some at the start of the year.[28]

Per the United States State Department (March 4, 2012): "One common and particularly dangerous method that criminals use in order to rob a victim is through the use of drugs. The most common has been scopolamine. Unofficial estimates put the number of annual scopolamine incidents in Colombia at approximately 50,000. Scopolamine can render a victim unconscious for 24 hours or more. In large doses, it can cause respiratory failure and death. It is most often administered in liquid or powder form in foods and beverages. The majority of these incidents occur in night clubs and bars, and usually men, perceived to be wealthy, are targeted by young, attractive women. To avoid becoming a victim of scopolamine, one should never accept food or beverages offered by strangers or new acquaintances or leave food or beverages unattended. Victims of scopolamine or other drugs should seek immediate medical attention."[29]


Scopolamine has been shown in multiple studies to be a potent antidepressant and anxiolytic medication. Two methods of administration have been studied. The first is in-patient sessions where the patients receive an intravenous infusion of a relatively large quantity of scopolamine during a session that lasts 1–2 hours. The patients are monitored during the infusion and released soon after as the effects wear-off quickly.[30] The second route of administration is oral scopolamine in a pill.

Intravenous infusions

In research assessing intravenous infusions, scopolamine has been found to produce rapid and robust antidepressant effects in patients with major depressive disorder.[31]

Oral scopolamine

Scopolamine has been studied for depression.[32]


  1. ^ a b c d "Buscopan Tablets - Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC)". electronic Medicines Compendium. Boehringer Ingelheim Limited. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "BUSCOPAN Tablets and Ampoules BUSCOPAN FORTE Tablets". TGA eBusiness Services (BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM PTY LIMITED). 8 November 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Putcha, L.; Cintrón, N. M.; Tsui, J.; Vanderploeg, J. M.; Kramer, W. G. (1989). "Pharmacokinetics and Oral Bioavailability of Scopolamine in Normal Subjects". Pharmacology Research 6 (6): 481–485.  
  4. ^ a b Uribe-Granja, Manuel; Moreno-López, Claudia L.; Zamora S., Adriana; Acosta, Pilar J. (September 2005). "Perfil epidemiológico de la intoxicación con burundanga en la clínica Uribe Cualla S. A. de Bogotá, D. C" (pdf). Acta Neurológica Colombiana (in Spanish) 21 (3): 197–201. 
  5. ^ Muranaka, T.; Ohkawa, H.; Yamada, Y. (1993). Hairy Root Clone in a Bioreactor System"Duboisia leichhardtii"Continuous Production of Scopolamine by a Culture of . Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 40 (2–3): 219–223.  
  6. ^ a b The Chambers Dictionary. Allied Publishers. 1998. pp. 788, 1480.  
  7. ^ a b "TRANSDERM SCOP (scopalamine) patch, extended release [Baxter Healthcare Corporation]". DailyMed. Baxter Healthcare Corporation. April 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "DBL™ HYOSCINE INJECTION BP". TGA eBusiness Services. Hospira Australia Pty Ltd. 30 January 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Cattell, Henry Ware (1910). Lippincott's new medical dictionary: a vocabulary of the terms used in medicine, and the allied sciences, with their pronunciation, etymology, and signification, including much collateral information of a descriptive and encyclopedic character. Lippincott. p. 435. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Joint Formulary Committee (2013). British National Formulary (BNF) (65 ed.). London, UK: Pharmaceutical Press. pp. 49, 266, 822, 823.  
  11. ^ a b Rossi, S, ed. (2013). Australian Medicines Handbook (2013 ed.). Adelaide: The Australian Medicines Handbook Unit Trust.  
  12. ^ Bitterman, N.; Eilender, E.; Melamed, Y. (1991). "Hyperbaric Oxygen and Scopolamine". Undersea Biomedical Research 18 (3): 167–174.  
  13. ^ Williams, T. H.; Wilkinson, A. R.; Davis, F. M.; Frampton, C. M. (1988). "Effects of Transcutaneous Scopolamine and Depth on Diver Performance". Undersea Biomedical Research 15 (2): 89–98.  
  14. ^ a b c "Kwells 300 microgram tablets - Summary of Product Characteristics". electronic Medicines Compendium. Bayer plc. 7 January 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  15. ^ Paul G. Barash; et al, eds. (2009). Clinical anesthesia (6 ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 346.  
  16. ^ a b c Ziegler, J.; Facchini, P. J. (2008). "Alkaloid Biosynthesis: Metabolism and Trafficking". Annual Review of Plant Biology 59 (1): 735–769.  
  17. ^ Li, R.; Reed, D. W.; Liu, E.; Nowak, J.; Pelcher, L. E.; Page, J. E.; Covello, P. S. (2006). "Functional Genomic Analysis of Alkaloid Biosynthesis in Hyoscyamus niger Reveals a Cytochrome P450 Involved in Littorine Rearrangement". Chemistry & Biology 13 (5): 513–520.  
  18. ^ White, P. F.; Tang, J.; Song, D. et al. (2007). "Transdermal Scopolamine: An Alternative to Ondansetron and Droperidol for the Prevention of Postoperative and Postdischarge Emetic Symptoms". Anesthesia and Analgesia 104 (1): 92–96.  
  19. ^ "Transderm Scop patch prescribing information". 
  20. ^ "NASA Signs Agreement to Develop Nasal Spray for Motion Sickness". 
  21. ^ Briggs (1994). Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. Baltimore, MD: Williams and Wilkins. pp. 777–778. 
  22. ^ Freye, E. (2010). "Toxicity of Datura Stramonium". Pharmacology and Abuse of Cocaine, Amphetamines, Ecstasy and Related Designer Drugs. Netherlands: Springer. pp. 217–218.  
  23. ^ Flicker; Ferris (1992). "Hypersensitivity to scopolamine in the elderly". Psychopharmacology (Berl) 107 (2–3): 437–441.  
  24. ^ "Bilsykemedisin i falske rohypnol-tabletter". 
  25. ^ House, R. E. (September 1922). "The Use of Scopolamine in Criminology". Texas State Journal of Medicine 18: 256–263. 
    reprinted House, R. E. (1931). "The Use of Scopolamine in Criminology". American Journal of Police Science (Northwestern University) 2 (4): 328–336.  
  26. ^ Gazdík, J.; Navara, L. (2009-08-08). "Svědek: Grebeníček vězně nejen mlátil, ale dával jim i drogy" [A witness: Grebeníček not only beat prisoners, he also administered drugs to them] (in Czech). iDnes. Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  27. ^ Truth" Drugs in Interrogation""". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  28. ^ "The Trial of H.H. Crippen" ed. by Filson Young (Notable British Trials series, Hodge, 1920), p. xxvii; see also evidence, pp. 68-77.
  29. ^ Colombia 2012 Crime and Safety Report: Cartagena
  30. ^ Frankel, E; Drevets, W; Luckenbaugh, D; Speer, A; Nugent, A; Zarate, C; Furey, M (June 2011). "Scopolamine as a fast-acting antidepressant agent in bipolar depression: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial". Bipolar disorders (Wiley-Blackwell) 13 (s1): 45.  
  31. ^ Martinowich, K; Jimenez, DV; Zarate, CA; Jr, Manji, HK (August 2013). "Rapid antidepressant effects: moving right along". Molecular Psychiatry 18 (8): 856–863.  
  32. ^ Han, C; Pae, CU (January 2013). "Oral scopolamine augmentation for major depression". Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 13 (1): 19–21.  

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