Labetalol: a review of its pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, clinical uses and adverse effects

Pharmacotherapy
E P MacCarthy, S S Bloomfield

Abstract

Labetalol is a combined alpha- and beta-adrenoceptor blocking agent for oral and intravenous use in the treatment of hypertension. It is a nonselective antagonist at beta-adrenoceptors and a competitive antagonist of postsynaptic alpha 1-adrenoceptors. Labetalol is more potent at beta that at alpha 1 adrenoceptors in man; the ratio of beta-alpha antagonism is 3:1 after oral and 6.9:1 after intravenous administration. Labetalol is readily absorbed in man after oral administration, but the drug, which is lipid soluble, undergoes considerable hepatic first-pass metabolism and has an absolute bioavailability of approximately 25%. There are no active metabolites, and the elimination half-life of the drug is approximately 6 hours. Unlike conventional beta-adrenoceptor blocking drugs without intrinsic sympathomimetic activity, labetalol, when given acutely, produces a decrease in peripheral vascular resistance and blood pressure with little alteration in heart rate or cardiac output. However, like conventional beta-blockers, labetalol may influence the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and respiratory function. Clinical studies have shown that the antihypertensive efficacy of labetalol is superior to placebo and to diuretic therapy...Continue Reading

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