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Methylprednisolone (Medrol®, Depo-Medrol®)

By: Dr. Karin Szust

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Overview

  • The immune and inflammation systems of pets and people constitute essential safeguards against infections and disease.
  • However, in some situations, inflammation is dangerous and leads to severe damage in tissues and organs.
  • Similarly, the immune system, often for no apparent reason, can attack the body and cause great damage or even death. Many of the resultant medical conditions are called autoimmune diseases.
  • Drugs that control inflammation and suppress the immune system are often needed to treat diseases in animals. Methylprednisolone is one of these drugs. This drug is classified as a glucocorticoid because it is related to cortisone and contains glucose in the molecule.
  • Effects of glucocorticoids can be observed in every organ system and these drugs should only be used when necessary.
  • Methylprednisolone 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 humans and animals.
  • Human formulations: Medrol® (Upjohn), Depo-Medrol® (Upjohn) and generics
  • Veterinary formulations: Medrol® (Upjohn), Depo-Medrol® (Upjohn) and generics

    Uses of Methylprednisolone

  • Methylprednisolone is used for its anti-inflammatory effect.
  • It can be used in treatment of allergic reactions and inflammatory diseases.
  • Certain autoimmune diseases of the skin may be treated with this drug. Other immune-mediated diseases, such as immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, can also be treated using methylprednisolone.
  • It may be injected into the skin lesion for lick granuloma conditions in dogs (along with supportive behavioral modification therapy).
  • Methylprednisolone is sometimes used in combination with other drugs for the treatment of trauma of the spinal cord and brain.
  • Methylprednisolone is used in cats for the treatment of feline bronchial asthma, feline rodent ulcer (eosinophilic granuloma), feline inflammatory bowel disease, flea allergy dermatitis and miliary dermatitis.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, methylprednisolone can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Methylprednisolone should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • This drug should not be used in animals with glaucoma, diabetes, Cushing's syndrome (hyperadrenocorticism), pregnancy, congestive heart failure, corneal ulcers, high blood pressure and kidney failure.
  • Methylprednisolone should not be used in combination with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin.
  • Methylprednisolone should be avoided in animals with viral and fungal infections.
  • In general, glucocorticoids are not used before surgical procedures because these drugs may delay the healing process.
  • Methylprednisolone may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with methylprednisolone. Such drugs include furosemide, insulin, phenobarbital, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, other steroids and certain antibiotics.
  • Common adverse side effects of methylprednisolone include vomiting, behavior modification, lethargy, increased water intake, increased frequency of urination, increased appetite and panting.
  • Common adverse effects of long term treatment with methylprednisolone include hair loss, skin thinning and pigmentation, muscle weakness, diarrhea and complications related to diabetes.
  • Glucocorticoids may exacerbate gastrointestinal ulcers by stimulating the production of gastric enzymes and impairing wound healing.

    How Methylprednisolone Is Supplied

  • Methylprednisolone is availabe in tablets, an intravenous injection (methylprednisolone sodium succinate) and a "repositol" (longer-acting) injection form (methylprednisolone acetate).
  • Methylprednisolone is available in variety of sizes from 1 mg to 32 mg.
  • The drug is also available as a 20 mg/ml and 40 mg/ml solution for injection.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • The doses of methylprednisolone used in dogs and cats depend on the condition, severity, preparation, route of administration (oral or injectable) and other factors.
  • Doses range from 0.5 mg per pound (1 mg/kg) to 15 mg per pound (30 mg/kg).
  • 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.






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