Lidocaine, also known as lignocaine, is a local anesthetic of the amino amide type. It is also used to treat ventricular tachycardia. When used for local anesthesia or in nerve blocks, lidocaine typically begins working within several minutes and lasts for half an hour to three hours. Lidocaine mixtures may also be applied directly to the skin or mucous membranes to numb the area. It is often used mixed with a small amount of adrenaline (epinephrine) to prolong its local effects and to decrease bleeding.
Lidocaine was discovered in 1946 and went on sale in 1948. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. It is available as a generic medication. It is sold under a number of brand names including Xylocaine. In 2017, it was the 208th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than two million prescriptions.
As of 2010, lidocaine is not listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency as an illegal substance. It is used as an adjuvant, adulterant, and diluent to street drugs such as cocaine and heroin. It is one of the three common ingredients in site enhancement oil used by bodybuilders. Lidocaine is often added to cocaine as a diluent. Cocaine and lidocaine both numb the gums when applied. This gives the user the impression of high-quality cocaine, when in actuality the user is receiving a diluted product.
Legal Status in US: ℞-only (OTC for ≤4% for topical application for skin numbing use or ≤5% for anorectal hemorroidal pain and to prevent premature ejaculation) Above 5% or other routes of administration: Rx-only.« Back to Glossary Index