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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Simon Thomas
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).
Acetylcysteine has been used as a treatment for paracetamol overdose as a 20.25- or 21-h infusion for nearly 40 years. These regimens give 50% of the dose in the first 15 min or 1 h, and are associated with high rates of adverse reactions. A randomised controlled trial has demonstrated that a shorter (12 h) and simpler (two infusions) acetylcysteine regimen using a slower initial infusion rate produces lower rates of adverse events than the original 20.25-h regimen. However, this study was not sufficiently large to show therapeutic equivalence as a hepatoprotective therapy in paracetamol overdose. Two further studies are now reported, which also suggest lower rates of adverse reactions with lower initial rates of acetylcysteine administration. These modified regimens can now be accepted as better tolerated, but it is unlikely that a randomised study of sufficient size to demonstrate non-inferiority of any novel regimen would ever be funded. Against this background we suggest what can be done to establish the efficacy of these less toxic and potentially shorter alternative acetylcysteine regimens and to establish them into routine clinical use.
Author(s): Bateman DN, Dear JW, Thomas SHL
Publication type: Editorial
Publication status: Published
Journal: Clinical Toxicology
Print publication date: 01/01/2016
Online publication date: 14/12/2015
Acceptance date: 13/11/2015
ISSN (print): 1556-3650
ISSN (electronic): 1556-9519
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Inc