Corticotropin (ACTH), Injection


What are other names for this medicine?

Type of medicine: diagnostic agent

Generic and brand names: corticotropin zinc hydroxide, injection; corticotropin, injection; repository corticotropin, injection; ACTH; Cortrosyn; Cosyntropin; H.P. Acthar Gel

What is this medicine used for?

This medicine is given by injection (shots) to test the function of the adrenal cortex (the covering of a gland near the kidneys that makes hormones). It is also used to treat multiple sclerosis, infantile spasms (a specific type of seizures in young children), certain kinds of cancer, and other conditions. Your healthcare provider will explain why you are being given these shots.

What should my healthcare provider know before I take this medicine?

Before taking this medicine, tell your healthcare provider if you have:

  • An allergic reaction to any medicine
  • A fungus infection
  • Eye infections caused by herpes virus
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Psychosis or other mental health problem
  • Scleroderma (a skin disorder)
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Thyroid problems

Also tell your provider if you have recently had surgery.

Females of childbearing age: Talk with your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Do not breast-feed while taking this medicine without your healthcare provider's approval.

How do I use it?

These shots are usually given by a healthcare provider. They are given into a muscle, into a vein, or just under the skin depending on the product being used. Keep all appointments for your shots.

Sometimes you can give yourself these shots or have someone at home give them to you. Be sure you know how and when to have shots and how much medicine to use. If you are not sure of how to give yourself the shots, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for help.

What should I watch out for?

You may get infections more easily when you are taking this medicine. Report any signs of infection to your healthcare provider. Stay away from people with colds, flu, or other infections. Do not have any vaccinations with live vaccines while receiving this medicine. Check with your healthcare provider first.

If you need emergency care, surgery, or dental work, tell the healthcare provider or dentist you are taking this medicine.

This medicine may interfere with skin tests and certain lab tests. Tell all healthcare providers that you are taking this medicine.

While you are receiving these shots, your healthcare provider may:

  • Monitor your potassium levels
  • Have you follow a potassium-rich diet
  • Prescribe a potassium supplement for you to take.

Diabetics: This medicine may affect your blood sugar level and change the amount of insulin or other diabetes medicines you may need. Talk to your healthcare provider about this.

What are the possible side effects?

Along with its needed effects, your medicine may cause some unwanted side effects. Some side effects may be very serious. Some side effects may go away as your body adjusts to the medicine. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that continue or get worse.

Life-threatening (Report these to your healthcare provider right away. If you cannot reach your healthcare provider right away, get emergency medical care or call 911 for help): Allergic reaction (hives; itching; rash; trouble breathing; tightness in your chest; swelling of your lips, tongue, and throat).

Serious (report these to your healthcare provider right away): Swelling of the ankles or legs; stomach pain; seizures; muscle weakness; headache that continues; bloody or black, tarry stools; vision changes; fever; unexplained sore throat.

Other: Skin discoloration, change in skin texture, pimples, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, irritability, trouble sleeping, menstrual irregularities, confusion, increased appetite, weight gain.

What products might interact with this medicine?

When you take this medicine with other medicines, it can change the way this or any of the other medicines work. Nonprescription medicines, vitamins, natural remedies, and certain foods may also interact. Using these products together might cause harmful side effects. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking:

  • Antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), and moxifloxacin (Avelox)
  • Aspirin and other salicylates
  • Barbiturates such as butabarbital (Butisol), pentobarbital (Nembutal), and phenobarbital
  • Diabetes medicines such as glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), repaglinide (Prandin), and rosiglitazone (Avandia)
  • Live vaccines
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam), ibuprofen (Motrin, Motrin IB, Advil), indomethacin (Indocin), ketoprofen, ketorolac (Toradol), nabumetone (Relafen), naproxen (Naprosyn, Anaprox, Aleve, Naprelan), oxaprozin (Daypro), piroxicam (Feldene), and sulindac (Clinoril)
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • Potassium-depleting diuretics such as bumetanide, chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), indapamide (Lozol), metolazone (Zaroxolyn), polythiazide (Renese), and torsemide (Demadex)
  • Rifampin (Rifadin)
  • Warfarin (Coumadin)

If you are not sure if your medicines might interact, ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider. Keep a list of all your medicines with you. List all the prescription medicines, nonprescription medicines, supplements, natural remedies, and vitamins that you take. Be sure that you tell all healthcare providers who treat you about all the products you are taking.


This advisory includes selected information only and may not include all side effects of this medicine or interactions with other medicines. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information or if you have any questions.

Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.

Do not share medicines with other people.

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Published by RelayHealth.
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