Medication Search: Buminate

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Common Name:

albumin (human)


How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Albumin belongs to the group of medications known as plasma substitutes. Albumin is made by the liver and is a naturally-occurring protein found in plasma (the fluid that carries blood cells). It helps to transport a number of the body’s substances (e.g., bilirubin) via the blood by attaching itself to them.

More albumin in the blood helps to increase the volume of the blood in the blood vessels. It does this by helping to draw fluid from the body into the blood vessels. This is especially useful in treating shock (when blood can’t carry enough oxygen to tissues in the body) due to various causes, including serious injury, bleeding, surgery, or severe burns. Albumin can also replace low blood protein. Albumin solutions are also used to treat acute liver failure because of its ability to bind excess bilirubin (a substance produced by the liver) and increase the volume of blood.

During certain surgeries, albumin solutions sometimes need to be given to replace albumin lost during the procedure. Albumin solutions may be used before blood transfusions in the treatment of newborn hemolytic disease (a disorder where red blood cells are destroyed) so that extra bilirubin can be bound, reducing the risk of a condition known as kernicterus (damage and staining of the brain tissue by bilirubin). In acute nephrosis (a type of kidney disease), albumin solutions are sometimes given to help reduce the edema (water retention) that occurs in this condition.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Buminate is no longer being manufactured for sale in Canada. For brands that may still be available, search under albumin.  This article is being kept available for reference purposes only. If you are using this medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for information about your treatment options.

How should I use this medication?

Albumin is injected into a vein in the arm and is always given under direct supervision of a doctor, usually in a hospital or clinic setting. The dose and the rate at which this medication is given vary according to the person’s individual needs for plasma albumin.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss an appointment for your treatment, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use albumin if you:

  • are allergic to albumin or any ingredients of the medication
  • have heart failure, where the heart is not able to deliver enough blood to other organs in the body
  • have severe anemia (low blood cell count, resulting in decreased oxygen delivery to tissue around the body)

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • chills
  • fever
  • hives
  • nausea
  • racing heartbeat

Although most of the side effects listed below don’t happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • breathing problems (such as shortness of breath, wheezing)
  • severe stomach cramps, vomiting or diarrhea
  • signs of too high blood volume (e.g., headache, trouble breathing, increased blood pressure, swelling feet and ankles or hands)
  • sudden unexpected changes in blood pressure

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of an allergic reaction (such as skin rash or hives, trouble breathing, swelling of the lips, mouth, throat, eyelids, genitals, hands or feet)
  • signs of shock (e.g., confusion, loss of consciousness, sweating, weak and rapid pulse, rapid breathing)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Anemia: Albumin may cause symptoms of anemia to become worse. If you have stabilized chronic (long-term) anemia, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Blood counts: This medication can decrease the concentration of red blood cells (which carry oxygen), and platelets (which help your blood to clot). Your doctor will do blood tests to monitor this. If you notice any signs of unusual bleeding or bruising, contact your doctor immediately.

Disease transmission: This medication is made from human plasma. Products made from human plasma may contain things that can cause disease, such as viruses and bacteria. Plasma donors are screened and certain viruses and bacteria are inactivated or removed in order to minimize the risk of disease transmission. However, there is still a small chance that this medication may infect recipients. Please discuss any questions or concerns you may have about this with your health care provider.

Fluid and electrolyte balance: Albumin causes the volume of fluid in the blood to increase. As a result, levels of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium in the blood may change when albumin is given. If you experience symptoms of fluid and electrolyte imbalance such as muscle pains or cramps; dry mouth; numb hands, feet, or lips; or racing heartbeat, tell your doctor as soon as possible.

Heart disease: Albumin may cause symptoms of heart disease to become worse, because it causes an increase in fluid in the blood. If you have a history of congestive heart failure, high blood pressure or other conditions where an increase in the blood volume can may symptoms worse, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Kidney disease: If you have a history of reduced kidney function, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: This medication may pass into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking albumin, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children, however extensive experience in patients suggests that children respond to this medication in the same manner as adults.

Seniors: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for seniors.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

Albumin infusions should not be mixed with other infusions of:

  • packed red blood cells
  • solutions containing alcohol
  • solutions containing amino acids
  • solutions containing protein hydrolysates
  • whole blood

Specific compatibility information should be confirmed before giving albumin together with any other infusions of medications or solutions.

Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

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Last Updated: 25/07/2023