Prescription Drug Information: CAFFEINE CITRATE

CAFFEINE CITRATE — caffeine citrate injection
CAFFEINE CITRATE — caffeine citrate solution
Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd


Both caffeine citrate injection for intravenous administration and caffeine citrate oral solution are clear, colorless, sterile, non-pyrogenic, preservative-free, aqueous solutions adjusted to pH 4.7. Each mL contains 20 mg caffeine citrate (equivalent to 10 mg of caffeine base) prepared in solution by the addition of 10 mg caffeine anhydrous, USP to 5 mg citric acid monohydrate, USP, 8.3 mg sodium citrate dihydrate, USP and Water for Injection, USP.

Caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant, is an odorless white crystalline powder or granule, with a bitter taste. It is sparingly soluble in water and ethanol at room temperature. The chemical name of caffeine is 3,7-dihydro-1,3,7-trimethyl-1H -purine-2,6-dione. In the presence of citric acid it forms caffeine citrate salt in solution. The structural formula and molecular weight of caffeine citrate follows.

(click image for full-size original)

Caffeine citrate
C14 H18 N4 O9 Mol. Wt. 386.31


Mechanism of Action

Caffeine is structurally related to other methylxanthines, theophylline, and theobromine. It is a bronchial smooth muscle relaxant, a CNS stimulant, a cardiac muscle stimulant, and a diuretic.

Although the mechanism of action of caffeine in apnea of prematurity is not known, several mechanisms have been hypothesized. These include: (1) stimulation of the respiratory center, (2) increased minute ventilation, (3) decreased threshold to hypercapnia, (4) increased response to hypercapnia, (5) increased skeletal muscle tone, (6) decreased diaphragmatic fatigue, (7) increased metabolic rate, and (8) increased oxygen consumption.

Most of these effects have been attributed to antagonism of adenosine receptors, both A1 and A2 subtypes, by caffeine, which has been demonstrated in receptor binding assays and observed at concentrations approximating those achieved therapeutically.


Absorption: After oral administration of 10 mg caffeine base/kg to preterm neonates, the peak plasma level (Cmax ) for caffeine ranged from 6-10 mg/L and the mean time to reach peak concentration (Tmax ) ranged from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The Tmax was not affected by formula feeding. The absolute bioavailability, however, was not fully examined in preterm neonates.

Distribution: Caffeine is rapidly distributed into the brain. Caffeine levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of preterm neonates approximate their plasma levels. The mean volume of distribution of caffeine in infants (0.8-0.9 L/kg) is slightly higher than that in adults (0.6 L/kg). Plasma protein binding data are not available for neonates or infants. In adults, the mean plasma protein binding in vitro is reported to be approximately 36%.

Metabolism: Hepatic cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) is involved in caffeine biotransformation. Caffeine metabolism in preterm neonates is limited due to their immature hepatic enzyme systems.

Interconversion between caffeine and theophylline has been reported in preterm neonates; caffeine levels are approximately 25% of theophylline levels after theophylline administration and approximately 3-8% of caffeine administered would be expected to convert to theophylline.

Elimination: In young infants, the elimination of caffeine is much slower than that in adults due to immature hepatic and/or renal function. Mean half-life (T1/2 ) and fraction excreted unchanged in urine (Ae ) of caffeine in infants have been shown to be inversely related to gestational/postconceptual age. In neonates, the T1/2 is approximately 3-4 days and the Ae is approximately 86% (within 6 days). By 9 months of age, the metabolism of caffeine approximates that seen in adults (T1/2 = 5 hours and Ae = 1%).

Special Populations: Studies examining the pharmacokinetics of caffeine in neonates with hepatic or renal insufficiency have not been conducted. Caffeine citrate should be administered with caution in preterm neonates with impaired renal or hepatic function. Serum concentrations of caffeine should be monitored and dose administration of caffeine citrate should be adjusted to avoid toxicity in this population.

Clinical Studies

One multicenter, randomized, double-blind trial compared caffeine citrate to placebo in eighty-five (85) preterm infants (gestational age 28 to <33 weeks) with apnea of prematurity. Apnea of prematurity was defined as having at least 6 apnea episodes of greater than 20 seconds duration in a 24-hour period with no other identifiable cause of apnea. A 1 mL/kg (20 mg/kg caffeine citrate providing 10 mg/kg as caffeine base) loading dose of caffeine citrate was administered intravenously, followed by a 0.25 mL/kg (5 mg/kg caffeine citrate providing 2.5 mg/kg of caffeine base) daily maintenance dose administered either intravenously or orally (generally through a feeding tube). The duration of treatment in this study was limited to 10 to 12 days. The protocol allowed infants to be “rescued” with open-label caffeine citrate treatment if their apnea remained uncontrolled during the double-blind phase of the trial.

The percentage of patients without apnea on day 2 of treatment (24-48 hours after the loading dose) was significantly greater with caffeine citrate than placebo. The following table summarizes the clinically relevant endpoints evaluated in this study:

Caffeine Citrate Placebo p-value
Number of patients evaluated* 45 37
% of patients with zero apnea events on day 2 26.7 8.1 0.03
Apnea rate on day 2 (per 24 hrs.) 4.9 7.2 0.134
% of patients with 50% reduction in apnea events from baseline on day 2 76 57 0.07
* Of 85 patients who received drug, 3 were not included in the efficacy analysis because they had <6 apnea episodes/24 hours at baseline.

In this 10-12 day trial, the mean number of days with zero apnea events was 3 in the caffeine citrate group and 1.2 in the placebo group. The mean number of days with a 50% reduction from baseline in apnea events was 6.8 in the caffeine citrate group and 4.6 in the placebo group.


Caffeine citrate injection and caffeine citrate oral solution are indicated for the short term treatment of apnea of prematurity in infants between 28 and <33 weeks gestational age.


Caffeine citrate injection and caffeine citrate oral solution are contraindicated in patients who have demonstrated hypersensitivity to any of its components.


During the double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 6 cases of necrotizing enterocolitis developed among the 85 infants studied (caffeine=46, placebo=39), with 3 cases resulting in death. Five of the six patients with necrotizing enterocolitis were randomized to or had been exposed to caffeine citrate.

Reports in the published literature have raised a question regarding the possible association between the use of methylxanthines and development of necrotizing enterocolitis, although a causal relationship between methylxanthine use and necrotizing enterocolitis has not been established. Therefore, as with all preterm infants, patients being treated with caffeine citrate should be carefully monitored for the development of necrotizing enterocolitis.



Apnea of prematurity is a diagnosis of exclusion. Other causes of apnea (e.g., central nervous system disorders, primary lung disease, anemia, sepsis, metabolic disturbances, cardiovascular abnormalities, or obstructive apnea) should be ruled out or properly treated prior to initiation of caffeine citrate.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and in cases of caffeine overdose, seizures have been reported. Caffeine citrate should be used with caution in infants with seizure disorders.

The duration of treatment of apnea of prematurity in the placebo-controlled trial was limited to 10 to 12 days. The safety and efficacy of caffeine citrate for longer periods of treatment have not been established. Safety and efficacy of caffeine citrate for use in the prophylactic treatment of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or prior to extubation in mechanically ventilated infants have also not been established.


Although no cases of cardiac toxicity were reported in the placebo-controlled trial, caffeine has been shown to increase heart rate, left ventricular output, and stroke volume in published studies. Therefore, caffeine citrate should be used with caution in infants with cardiovascular disease.

Renal and Hepatic Systems

Caffeine citrate should be administered with caution in infants with impaired renal or hepatic function. Serum concentrations of caffeine should be monitored and dose administration of caffeine citrate should be adjusted to avoid toxicity in this population. (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Elimination, Special Populations.)

Information for Patients

Parents/caregivers of patients receiving caffeine citrate oral solution should receive the following instructions:

  1. Caffeine citrate oral solution does not contain any preservatives and each vial is for single use only. Any unused portion of the medication should be discarded.
  2. It is important that the dose of caffeine citrate oral solution be measured accurately, i.e., with a 1cc or other appropriate syringe.
  3. Consult your physician if the baby continues to have apnea events; do not increase the dose of caffeine citrate oral solution without medical consultation.
  4. Consult your physician if the baby begins to demonstrate signs of gastrointestinal intolerance, such as abdominal distention, vomiting, or bloody stools, or seems lethargic.
  5. Caffeine citrate oral solution should be inspected visually for particulate matter and discoloration prior to its administration. Vials containing discolored solution or visible particulate matter should be discarded.

Laboratory Tests

Prior to initiation of caffeine citrate, baseline serum levels of caffeine should be measured in infants previously treated with theophylline, since preterm infants metabolize theophylline to caffeine. Likewise, baseline serum levels of caffeine should be measured in infants born to mothers who consumed caffeine prior to delivery, since caffeine readily crosses the placenta.

In the placebo-controlled clinical trial, caffeine levels ranged from 8 to 40 mg/L. A therapeutic plasma concentration range of caffeine could not be determined from the placebo-controlled clinical trial. Serious toxicity has been reported in the literature when serum caffeine levels exceed 50 mg/L. Serum concentrations of caffeine may need to be monitored periodically throughout treatment to avoid toxicity.

In clinical studies reported in the literature, cases of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia have been observed. Therefore, serum glucose may need to be periodically monitored in infants receiving caffeine citrate.

Drug Interactions

Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) is known to be the major enzyme involved in the metabolism of caffeine. Therefore, caffeine has the potential to interact with drugs that are substrates for CYP1A2, inhibit CYP1A2, or induce CYP1A2.

Few data exist on drug interactions with caffeine in preterm neonates. Based on adult data, lower doses of caffeine may be needed following coadministration of drugs which are reported to decrease caffeine elimination (e.g., cimetidine and ketoconazole) and higher caffeine doses may be needed following coadministration of drugs that increase caffeine elimination (e.g., phenobarbital and phenytoin).

Caffeine administered concurrently with ketoprofen reduced the urine volume in four healthy volunteers. The clinical significance of this interaction in preterm neonates is not known.

Interconversion between caffeine and theophylline has been reported in preterm neonates. The concurrent use of these drugs is not recommended.

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 provides trustworthy package insert and label information about marketed prescription drugs as submitted by manufacturers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Package information is not reviewed or updated separately by Every individual prescription drug label and package insert entry contains a unique identifier which can be used to secure further details directly from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and/or the FDA.

As a leading independent provider of trustworthy medication information, we source our database directly from the FDA's central repository of drug labels and package inserts under the Structured Product Labeling standard. provides the full prescription-only subset of the FDA's repository. Medication information provided here is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified health professional.

Terms of Use | Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.