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Drug Profile

Do NOT stop taking this or any drug without the advice of your physician. Some drugs can cause severe adverse effects when they are stopped suddenly.

Do Not Use [what does this mean?]
Generic drug name: desmopressin (des moe pres in)
Brand name(s): NOCDURNA
GENERIC: not available FAMILY: Drugs for Nocturia
Find the drug label by searching at DailyMed.

Alternative Treatment [top]

Lifestyle changes, optimize treatment for underlying disorders that cause nocturia (nighttime urination)

Pregnancy and Breast-feeding Warnings [top]

Pregnancy Warning

We designate this drug as Do Not Use in all patients, and the drug particularly should not be used by women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant. Nighttime urination is a normal physiologic change during pregnancy.

Breast-Feeding Warning

Desmopressin is excreted in human milk. We designate this drug as Do Not Use in all patients. Women who are breast-feeding should talk to their doctor about alternative treatments.

Safety Warnings For This Drug [top]

FDA BLACK-BOX WARNING

Facts About This Drug [top]

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved desmopressin sublingual (under the tongue) tablets with the brand name NOCDURNA in 2018 for the treatment of nocturia (waking up at night to urinate) in adults.[1] The approval is limited to those patients who have nocturnal polyuria (overproduction of urine during the night) and wake up at least twice per night to urinate.

Desmopressin is the only drug approved in the U.S. for treating nocturia.[2] We have designated desmopressin sublingual...

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved desmopressin sublingual (under the tongue) tablets with the brand name NOCDURNA in 2018 for the treatment of nocturia (waking up at night to urinate) in adults.[1] The approval is limited to those patients who have nocturnal polyuria (overproduction of urine during the night) and wake up at least twice per night to urinate.

Desmopressin is the only drug approved in the U.S. for treating nocturia.[2] We have designated desmopressin sublingual tablets as Do Not Use for treatment of nocturia because the drug’s significant risks far outweigh its minimal benefits.

Desmopressin is a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone vasopressin, which is produced by the pituitary gland, a pea-sized structure located below the brain. Desmopressin, like vasopressin, works in part by stimulating the kidneys to reabsorb water, thereby temporarily reducing the volume of urine that is produced. Since 1978, the FDA has approved several other nasal-spray, oral-tablet and injectable formulations of desmopressin for uses other than treatment of nocturia.[3] These older versions of desmopressin are currently marketed under the brand name DDAVP, as well as several generic versions.

Nocdurna, the newest version of desmopressin, is approved only for treating nocturia.[4] It is to be administered nightly one hour before bedtime as a single tablet taken sublingually and is available in two dosage strengths: 25 micrograms (mcg) per tablet for women and 50 mcg per tablet for men.[4]

Importantly, prior to approving Nocdurna in 2018, the FDA had rejected the drug twice (in 2010 and 2013) for treatment of all types of nocturia regardless of severity or cause and a third time (in 2015) for treatment of nocturia due to nocturnal polyuria because the drug’s risks were deemed to outweigh its benefits.[5]

At a 2015 meeting of the FDA’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee, 10 of 17 committee members concluded that the demonstrated benefits of Nocdurna did not outweigh its risks and did not support approval of the drug for treating nocturia due to nocturnal polyuria (two other members abstained from voting on this pivotal issue).[6] Particular concern was expressed that Nocdurna could trigger dangerously low blood sodium levels.

Disturbingly, the FDA did not require that Ferring Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Nocdurna, conduct new clinical trials to establish the safety and effectiveness of Nocdurna after the agency’s third rejection of the drug in 2015 before reconsidering the drug for approval for a fourth time.

The effectiveness of Nocdurna for treating nocturia in adults was tested in two three-month, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials.[4] One trial tested a desmopressin dosage of 25 mcg nightly compared with a placebo across a total of 237 women, and the other tested a dosage of 50 mcg nightly compared with a placebo across a total of 230 men. Compared with placebo, Nocdurna resulted, on average, in only approximately one fewer nocturia episode every five days in women and one fewer every two to three days in men.[5]

Like all other desmopressin drugs, Nocdurna’s greatest danger is that it can cause hyponatremia (low blood sodium or salt levels). The FDA required that the product labeling for Nocdurna include a black-box warning about this risk.[4] Sudden, severe hyponatremia is a medical emergency because it can cause swelling of the brain, which can lead to confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, coma and death. Mild-to-moderate hyponatremia usually does not cause symptoms, but even mild hyponatremia has been clearly associated with an increased risk of impaired attention, unsteadiness when walking, falls, and fractures in the elderly.[7],[8]

Across all major randomized clinical trials of Nocdurna, hyponatremia occurred in approximately 4% of subjects who received Nocdurna (at a dosage of either 25 mcg or 50 mcg nightly) and only 1% of those who received a placebo.[4] The incidence of hyponatremia with Nocdurna use was markedly higher in patients aged 65 or older than in those aged 64 or younger.[4]

Desmopressin also can cause fluid retention, which can worsen hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart failure.[4]

If you have frequent nocturia, work with your doctor to optimize the treatment of any underlying disorders associated with nocturia that you may have. Common causes of nocturia include the following:

  • Disorders that cause swelling, such as heart failure and kidney disease
  • Poorly controlled diabetes
  • Use of diuretics (for example, furosemide [LASIX])
  • Excessive fluid intake
  • Consumption of caffeine or alcohol, especially before bedtime
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Overactive bladder
  • Small bladder size
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Patients often have multiple causes for their nocturia. Some patients have nocturnal polyuria without an identifiable cause. Regardless of the cause, the number of nocturia episodes can fluctuate markedly from night to night in a given patient.

You also should avoid consuming caffeine, alcohol, diuretic medications and too much fluid during the few hours before bedtime.

last reviewed September 30, 2021