Definition of papaverine in US English:



  • A compound present in opium used medicinally to alleviate muscle spasms and asthma.

    An alkaloid; chemical formula: C₂₀H₂₁NO₄

    • ‘In non-occlusive mesenteric ischaemia, infusion of an intra-arterial vasodilator such as papaverine into the superior mesenteric artery may be all that is needed to reverse vasoconstriction and prevent bowel infarction.’
    • ‘A second approach has employed intracavernosal injection of papaverine, a vasoactive agent that induces erection and has been associated most with the treatment of erectile dysfunction.’
    • ‘The alkaloid was first synthesized by Pictet and Gams in 1909, and as the amount of papaverine obtained from opium is small, the synthetic route remains the source of this compound up to the present day.’
    • ‘Another drug commonly given through injections is papaverine, which has the same effect of widening the blood vessels.’
    • ‘A 4-mg solution of papaverine is used to irrigate vessels in the event of vasospasms.’


Mid 19th century: from Latin papaver ‘poppy’ + -ine.