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Desoxycorticosterone (Percorten-V®)

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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  • Addison's disease – more properly known as hypoadrenocorticism – is a deficiency of hormones (cortisol, aldosterone) normally produced by the adrenal glands. Consequences of this disorder can include extreme weakness, shock, vomiting, diarrhea, disturbances of blood potassium and sodium, abnormal heart rhythms and death.
  • Hypoadrenocorticism in dogs is an autoimmune disease that leads to destruction of the adrenal gland cortex (outer layers) and a deficiency of vital hormones.
  • One of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands and absent in Addison's disease is aldosterone. This hormone assists the kidney in retaining needed sodium and getting rid of excess potassium. Deficiency of the hormone increases sodium loss in the urine, reduces blood pressure and increases blood potassium. High blood potassium can be dangerous, leading to fatal cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Treatment of Addison's disease requires replacement of missing hormones. It is essential to replace aldosterone with a similar hormone. Desoxycorticosterone is an injectable replacement (hormone) belonging to a class of drugs known as mineralocorticoids steroids. Desoxycorticosterone is also called DOCP.
  • DOCP acts on the kidney to increase the absorption of sodium and facilitates excretion of potassium from the body.
  • The effects of DOCP last between 21 and 30 days following injection.
  • DOCP is not effective if kidney function is significantly impaired.
  • DOCP is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in animals only.
  • Human formulations: None
  • Veterinary formulations: Percorten-V® (Novartis Animal Health)

    Uses of Desoxycorticosterone

  • Desoxycorticosterone is used to treat Addison's disease in dogs.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, desoxycorticosterone can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Desoxycorticosterone (DOCP) should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • DOCP may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with desoxycorticosterone. Such drugs include furosemide, insulin, digoxin and amphotericin B.
  • DOCP use should be avoided in animals with heart failure or kidney failure.
  • Since DOCP is available only as an injection. Soreness and inflammation at the site of injection is a potential adverse effect.
  • Overdose of DOCP leads to increased thirst and urination, fluid retention and possible weakness.

    How Desoxycorticosterone Is Supplied

  • Desoxycorticosterone is available as a 25 mg/ml injection.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • Initially, desoxycorticosterone is dosed at 1 mg per pound (2.2 mg/kg) every 25 to 30 days.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse or prevent the development of resistance.

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