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Pancuronium bromide is a muscle relaxant. It works by competing with acetylcholine at the junction between nerves and muscles. Unlike other muscle relaxants, its use does not result in spontaneous muscle contraction or relaxation. It is effective at very low doses and can induce a state where the patient can be intubated without reaction within two minutes. Moreover, in a healthy adult, complete recovery can be achieved in 2-3 hours after administration, although children and unhealthy patients can take much longer to recover from its effects.
In medicine, it is generally used with anesthesia to prevent reflex muscle movement. Unlike other similar drugs, it does not interact with the anesthetic agent as, alone, it causes neither sedation or diminished pain. However, it can cause a slightly increased heart rate, increased salivation, respiratory suppression, rashes and sweating. In addition, if the level of anesthesia is insufficient to block pain, the pancuronium will cause complete paralysis and prevent the patient from reacting to the pain, no matter how severe.
Together with other drugs, it is used both for euthanasia and execution by lethal injection.