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What are the Different Medicines for Intravenous Use?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 25, 2024
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A diverse variety of medications for intravenous use exists. Those being treated outside of hospitals often receive oral medicines, but in hospitals or infusion clinics, it’s frequently easier to administer medicine intravenously, via an intravenous (IV) catheter inserted into a vein. Also, some medications aren’t available orally or there is a medical need to place drugs directly in the bloodstream for more effective treatment. There is an extremely long list of medicines available, and almost any oral drug can be infused in this way. Some types of medicines available by IV are anesthetics, cancer fighting drugs (chemotherapy), antivirals, antibiotics, and cardiac medications.

Anesthesia drugs for intravenous use have different purposes. They include most pain medicines, and anesthetics that can create muscle relaxation, induce paralysis, and produce mild to significant sedation or amnesia. While many of these medications are used only during surgeries, some are given under other circumstances. Pain medications like opioids may be infused to relieve pain from injuries or surgery. Someone who is panicking or detoxing from alcohol use could benefit from a benzodiazepine to create calm. Alternately, if a person is intubated, he may need an amnesic drug and one that reduces movement capability.

Cancer fighting drugs are another class of medications commonly given by IV. While there are few oral medications available to retard or kill cancer, the majority are delivered intravenously. IV administration of chemotherapy, which may include more than one drug used together, doesn’t always take place in hospital rooms.

Many people get their doses of chemotherapy at infusion or cancer clinics. This means they’re able to go home after an infusion is finished, which usually takes a couple of hours. The very ill patient might have treatment while hospitalized or occasionally infusion can take place at home.

Another group of medicines that may be infused in hospitals, at clinics or sometimes at home are antiviral drugs. Many people take oral antivirals, but in cases of extreme illness, faster infusion could be necessary or medicines might need to be given around the clock. People with autoimmune illnesses occasionally benefit from drugs for intravenous use like gamma globulins, which may reduce autoimmune response and lessen symptoms of an illness.

Certainly one group of medications for intravenous use that deserves attention are antibacterial drugs. These are usually employed as either a preventative step during surgeries or when anyone has a pronounced infection that isn’t likely to respond to oral treatment. Conditions like sepsis or cellulitis are frequently treated with IV antibiotics because introduction of the antibiotics directly in the bloodstream may better treat infection.

Other medications for intravenous use include a variety of cardiac medicines, such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and blood thinners. Drugs to reduce inflammation are common, and there are specific medications that may treat different organ ailments or supplement the body with what it lacks. Truly the list of all possible drugs for intravenous use is extensive and it continues to grow with development of new drugs.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
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