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Procaine is an anesthetic drug, commonly called novocaine, that gives prolonged relief from pain. It is used as a local anesthetic and in rectal and other surgery surgery, branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and the excision and repair of pathological conditions by means of operative procedures. It is marketed under the trade name Novocain.

Procaine was first synthesized in 1898, and was the first injectable man-made local anesthetic. It was created by the German chemist Alfred Einhorn (1857–1917) who gave the chemical the trade name Novocaine, from the Latin Novus (meaning New) and caine, a common ending for alkaloids used as anesthetics. It was introduced into medical use by surgeon Heinrich Braun (1862–1934).

Procaine is used less frequently today since more effective (and hypoallergenic) alternatives such as lidocaine (Xylocaine) exist. Prior to the discovery of procaine, cocaine was the most commonly used local anesthetic. Procaine (like cocaine) has the advantage of constricting blood vessels, which reduces bleeding, unlike other local anesthetics like lidocaine, and without the euphoric and addictive qualities of cocaine.

Systematic (IUPAC) name
2-(diethylamino)ethyl 4-aminobenzoate
CAS number 59-46-1
ATC code N01BA02 C05AD05 S01HA05
PubChem 4914
DrugBank APRD00650
ChemSpider 4745
Chemical data
Formula C13H20N2O2 
Mol. mass 236.31 g/mol
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability n/a
Metabolism Hydrolysis by plasma esterases
Half life 40–84 seconds
Excretion Renal
Therapeutic considerations
Pregnancy cat.

B2(AU) C(US)

Legal status

Prescription Only (S4)(AU)

Routes Parenteral

Procaine side effects

Stop using procaine and seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following rare but serious side effects:

  • an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);
  • chest pain or slow or irregular heartbeats;
  • dizziness or drowsiness;
  • anxiety or restlessness;
  • nausea or vomiting; or
  • trembling, shaking, or seizures (convulsions).

Other less serious side effects such as numbness, tingling, or minor pain at or around the injection site are more likely to occur. Contact your healthcare provider if these effects seem excessive or prolonged.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

Combining Procaine with other drugs

Before using procaine, talk to your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:

  • warfarin (Coumadin);
  • a monoamine oxidase inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), or tranylcypromine (Parnate);
  • mecamylamine (Inversine);
  • guanadrel (Hylorel) or guanethidine (Ismelin);
  • a medicine to treat high blood pressure; or
  • a medicine to improve muscle strength or tone for conditions such as myasthenia gravis.

You may not be able to use procaine, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.

Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with procaine. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking or using any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products.