- Aust Prescr 2007;30:107-11
- 1 August 2007
- DOI: 10.18773/austprescr.2007.066
Voluven (Pharmatel Fresenius Kabi)
6% solution for intravenous infusion
Approved indication: hypovolaemia
The optimum solution for expanding plasma volume is uncertain. There is debate about whether patients given colloid solutions, such as albumin, have worse outcomes than patients given crystalloid solutions.1 To address some of the concerns synthetic colloids have been developed.
Pentastarch is derived from amylopectin. To slow down its metabolism by amylase, hydroxyethyl groups are added to the molecule. After this formulation is infused the expansion in intravascular volume lasts for 4-6 hours.
This formulation has been compared with other colloids in relatively small numbers of patients. Some of these comparisons have been with similar products containing a different ratio of hydroxyethyl groups.
In cardiac surgery there was no difference in efficacy between the new formulation and a similar product with a higher molecular weight.2 A study in orthopaedic surgery had a similar result and found that the new formulation may have less effect on some coagulation factors.3
Patients may develop hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis, to pentastarch. Itching is common. There may be confusion about pancreatitis as amylase concentrations rise in patients given pentastarch.
While pentastarch is effective, many factors including cost and physicians' opinions will determine whether it is used in preference to other volume expanders.1
The Transparency Score ( ) is explained in New drugs: transparency', Vol 37 No 1, Aust Prescr 2014;37:27.