procainamide, Pronestyl; Procan-SR; Procanbid (These brands no longer are available in the U.S.)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

What is procainamide, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Procainamide is an injectable antiarrhythmic drug that is used to correct disturbances in the heart's rhythm. Three actions are responsible for its ability to correct disturbances of rhythm and prevent their recurrence. Procainamide decreases the speed of electrical conduction through the heart muscle, prolongs the electrical phase during which the heart's muscle cells can be electrically stimulated, and prolongs the recovery period during which the heart muscle cells cannot be stimulated. Procainamide was approved for use by the FDA in 1950.

What brand names are available for procainamide?

Pronestyl, Procan-SR, Procanbid (These brands no longer are available in the U.S.)

Is procainamide available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for procainamide?


What are the side effects of procainamide?

Common reactions include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, rash, low blood pressure, itching, flushing, and slow heart beat. Severe reactions include abnormal heart beats, seizures, heart arrest, and blood disorders.

 A severe reduction in white blood cell count occurs relatively rarely with procainamide therapy and is more common with the sustained-release preparations. This side effect has caused death. For this reason, patients on sustained-release procainamide get a complete blood count test (CBC) every 2 weeks for the first 3 months of treatment. A syndrome resembling lupus erythematosus, including fever, chills, joint pain, chest pain, and/or skin rash can occur with procainamide. The lupus-like syndrome is reversible after stopping the drug. Rarely, procainamide can cause confusion, hallucinations, and depression.

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