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Desmopressin for Hemophilia


Generic Name Brand Name
desmopressin DDAVP, Minirin, Stimate

How It Works

Desmopressin is a medicine that can be used by people who have mild to moderate hemophilia to help increase clotting factors when they have certain medical or dental procedures done. Medical researchers believe that this drug acts by releasing unused clotting factor VIII from cells that line blood vessels.

Why It Is Used

Desmopressin is used before dental and minor surgical procedures for people who have mild to moderate hemophilia A. It is also used to treat mild bleeding episodes. Desmopressin acetate is not usually used in certain situations, such as for:

  • Severe cases of hemophilia.
  • Children younger than 1 year.
  • Serious injuries.

How Well It Works

In mild to moderate cases of hemophilia, desmopressin acetate can sometimes effectively control bleeding, because it increases the percentage of clotting factor VIII in the blood. But its effectiveness varies with each person, and the medicine's effectiveness is not known until it is tested individually.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

Side effects of desmopressin are not common but may include:

  • Stomach pain or nausea.
  • Sneezing, runny nose, or stuffy nose.
  • Cough.
  • Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Desmopressin is used to treat hemophilia A. It is usually injected. But it can also be used as a nasal spray. Desmopressin does not carry infectious diseases, and it is safe for treatment of adults. But desmopressin may become ineffective if it is used too often.

Desmopressin is inexpensive compared to clotting factor replacement.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)form.gif(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


  1. Chitlur M, Kulkarni R (2011). Hemophilia and related bleeding disorders. In ET Bope, et al., eds., Conn's Current Therapy 2011, pp. 428-434. Philadelphia: Saunders.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 03, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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