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1.  Effect of paracetamol (acetaminophen) and ibuprofen on body temperature in acute ischemic stroke PISA, a phase II double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial [ISRCTN98608690] 
Body temperature is a strong predictor of outcome in acute stroke. In a previous randomized trial we observed that treatment with high-dose acetaminophen (paracetamol) led to a reduction of body temperature in patients with acute ischemic stroke, even when they had no fever. The purpose of the present trial was to study whether this effect of acetaminophen could be reproduced, and whether ibuprofen would have a similar, or even stronger effect.
Seventy-five patients with acute ischemic stroke confined to the anterior circulation were randomized to treatment with either 1000 mg acetaminophen, 400 mg ibuprofen, or placebo, given 6 times daily during 5 days. Treatment was started within 24 hours from the onset of symptoms. Body temperatures were measured at 2-hour intervals during the first 24 hours, and at 6-hour intervals thereafter.
No difference in body temperature at 24 hours was observed between the three treatment groups. However, treatment with high-dose acetaminophen resulted in a 0.3°C larger reduction in body temperature from baseline than placebo treatment (95% CI: 0.0 to 0.6 °C). Acetaminophen had no significant effect on body temperature during the subsequent four days compared to placebo, and ibuprofen had no statistically significant effect on body temperature during the entire study period.
Treatment with a daily dose of 6000 mg acetaminophen results in a small, but potentially worthwhile decrease in body temperature after acute ischemic stroke, even in normothermic and subfebrile patients. Further large randomized clinical trials are needed to study whether early reduction of body temperature leads to improved outcome.
PMCID: PMC152640  PMID: 12657165
2.  PAIS: paracetamol (acetaminophen) in stroke; protocol for a randomized, double blind clinical trial. [ISCRTN 74418480] 
In patients with acute stroke, increased body temperature is associated with large lesion volumes, high case fatality, and poor functional outcome. A 1°C increase in body temperature may double the odds of poor outcome. Two randomized double-blind clinical trials in patients with acute ischemic stroke have shown that treatment with a daily dose of 6 g acetaminophen (paracetamol) results in a small but rapid and potentially worthwhile reduction of 0.3°C (95% CI: 0.1–0.5) in body temperature. We set out to test the hypothesis that early antipyretic therapy reduces the risk of death or dependency in patients with acute stroke, even if they are normothermic.
Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) In Stroke (PAIS) is a randomized, double-blind clinical trial, comparing high-dose acetaminophen with placebo in 2500 patients. Inclusion criteria are a clinical diagnosis of hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke and the possibility to start treatment within 12 hours from onset of symptoms. The study will have a power of 86% to detect an absolute difference of 6% in the risk of death or dependency at three months, and a power of 72% to detect an absolute difference of 5%, at a 5% significance level.
This is a simple trial, with a drug that only has a small effect on body temperature in normothermic patients. However, when lowering body temperature with acetaminophen does have the expected effectiveness, 20 patients will have to be treated to prevent dependency or death in one.
PMCID: PMC1208871  PMID: 16109181
3.  Paracetamol plus ibuprofen for the treatment of fever in children (PITCH): randomised controlled trial 
Objective To investigate whether paracetamol (acetaminophen) plus ibuprofen are superior to either drug alone for increasing time without fever and the relief of fever associated discomfort in febrile children managed at home.
Design Individually randomised, blinded, three arm trial.
Setting Primary care and households in England.
Participants Children aged between 6 months and 6 years with axillary temperatures of at least 37.8°C and up to 41.0°C.
Intervention Advice on physical measures to reduce temperature and the provision of, and advice to give, paracetamol plus ibuprofen, paracetamol alone, or ibuprofen alone.
Main outcome measures Primary outcomes were the time without fever (<37.2°C) in the first four hours after the first dose was given and the proportion of children reported as being normal on the discomfort scale at 48 hours. Secondary outcomes were time to first occurrence of normal temperature (fever clearance), time without fever over 24 hours, fever associated symptoms, and adverse effects.
Results On an intention to treat basis, paracetamol plus ibuprofen were superior to paracetamol for less time with fever in the first four hours (adjusted difference 55 minutes, 95% confidence interval 33 to 77; P<0.001) and may have been as good as ibuprofen (16 minutes, −7 to 39; P=0.2). For less time with fever over 24 hours, paracetamol plus ibuprofen were superior to paracetamol (4.4 hours, 2.4 to 6.3; P<0.001) and to ibuprofen (2.5 hours, 0.6 to 4.4; P=0.008). Combined therapy cleared fever 23 minutes (2 to 45; P=0.025) faster than paracetamol alone but no faster than ibuprofen alone (−3 minutes, 18 to −24; P=0.8). No benefit was found for discomfort or other symptoms, although power was low for these outcomes. Adverse effects did not differ between groups.
Conclusion Parents, nurses, pharmacists, and doctors wanting to use medicines to supplement physical measures to maximise the time that children spend without fever should use ibuprofen first and consider the relative benefits and risks of using paracetamol plus ibuprofen over 24 hours.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN26362730.
PMCID: PMC2528896  PMID: 18765450
4.  Correction: PAIS: paracetamol (acetaminophen) in stroke; protocol for a randomized, double blind clinical trial. [ISCRTN74418480] 
The Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) In Stroke (PAIS) study is a phase III multicenter, double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of high-dose acetaminophen in patients with acute stroke. The trial compares treatment with a daily dose of 6 g acetaminophen, started within 12 hours after the onset of symptoms, with matched placebo. The purpose of this study is to assess whether treatment with acetaminophen for 3 days will result in improved functional outcome through a modest reduction in body temperature and prevention of fever.
The previously planned statistical analysis based on a dichotomization of the scores on the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) may not make the most efficient use of the available baseline information. Therefore, the planned primary analysis of the PAIS study has been changed from fixed dichotomization of the mRS to a sliding dichotomy analysis.
Instead of taking a single definition of good outcome for all patients, the definition is tailored to each individual patient's baseline prognosis on entry into the trial.
The protocol change was initiated because of both advances in statistical approaches and to increase the efficiency of the trial by improving statistical power.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials [ISCRTN74418480]
PMCID: PMC2600816  PMID: 18983661
5.  Alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen in the treatment of febrile children: a pilot study [ISRCTN30487061] 
BMC Medicine  2006;4:4.
Alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen for the treatment of febrile children is a prevalent practice among physicians and parents, despite the lack of evidence on effectiveness or safety. This randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trial aims at comparing the antipyretic effectiveness and safety of a single administration of alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen doses to that of ibuprofen mono-therapy in febrile children.
Seventy febrile children were randomly allocated to receive either a single oral dose of 10 mg/kg ibuprofen and 15 mg/kg oral acetaminophen after 4 hours, or a similar dose of ibuprofen and placebo at 4 hours. Rectal temperature was measured at baseline, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 hours later. Endpoints included proportions of afebrile children at 6, 7 and 8 hours, maximum decline in temperature, time to recurrence of fever, and change in temperature from baseline at each time point. Intent-to-treat analysis was planned with statistical significance set at P < 0.05.
A higher proportion of subjects in the intervention group (83.3%) became afebrile at 6 hours than in the control group (57.6%); P = 0.018. This difference was accentuated at 7 and 8 hours (P < 0.001) with a significantly longer time to recurrence of fever in the intervention group (mean ± SD of 7.4 ± 1.3 versus 5.7 ± 2.2 hours), P < 0.001. Odds ratios (95%CI) for defervescence were 5.6 (1.3; 23.8), 19.5 (3.5; 108.9) and 15.3 (3.4; 68.3) at 6, 7 and 8 hours respectively. Two-way ANOVA with repeated measures over time revealed a significantly larger decline in temperature in the intervention group at times 7 (P = 0.026) and 8 (P = 0.002) hours.
A single dose of alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen appears to be a superior antipyretic regimen than ibuprofen mono-therapy. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC1421419  PMID: 16515705
6.  Randomized comparative trial of efficacy of paracetamol, ibuprofen and paracetamol-ibuprofen combination for treatment of febrile children 
Paracetamol and ibuprofen are widely used for fever in children as monotherapy and as combined therapy. None of the treatments is proven clearly superior to others. Hence, the study was planned to compare the efficacy of paracetamol, ibuprofen and paracetamol-ibuprofen combination for treatment of febrile children.
Materials and Methods:
This was an investigator blind, randomized, comparative, parallel clinical trial conducted in 99 febrile children, 6 months to 12 years of age, allocated to three groups. First group received paracetamol 15 mg/kg, second group received ibuprofen 10 mg/kg and third group received both paracetamol and ibuprofen, all as a single dose by the oral route. Patients were followed-up at intervals of 1, 2, 3 and 4 h post dose by tympanic thermometry.
Mean tympanic temperature after 4 h of drug administration was significantly lower in the combination group compared with paracetamol group (P < 0.05); however, the difference was not clinically significant (<1°C). The rate of fall of temperature was highest in the combination group. Number of afebrile children any time post dose until 4 h was highest in the combination group. Difference between combination and paracetamol was significant for the 1st h (P = 0.04). Highest fall of temperature was noted in the 1st h of drug administration in all the groups. No serious adverse events were observed in any of the groups.
Paracetamol and ibuprofen combination caused quicker temperature reduction than either paracetamol or ibuprofen alone. If quicker reduction of body temperature is the desired goal of therapy, the use of combination of paracetamol + ibuprofen may be advocated.
PMCID: PMC3915365  PMID: 24551584
Children; combination therapy; fever; ibuprofen; paracetamol
7.  Efficacy of Standard Doses of Ibuprofen Alone, Alternating, and Combined With Acetaminophen for the Treatment of Febrile Children 
Clinical therapeutics  2010;32(14):2433-2440.
Many pediatricians recommend, and many parents administer, alternating or combined doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen for fever. Limited data support this practice with standard US doses.
This study compared the antipyretic effect of 3 different treatment regimens in children, using either ibuprofen alone, ibuprofen combined with acetaminophen, or ibuprofen followed by acetaminophen over a single 6-hour observation period.
Febrile episodes from children aged 6 to 84 months were randomized into the 3 treatment groups: a single dose of ibuprofen at the beginning of the observation period; a single dose of ibuprofen plus a single dose of acetaminophen at the beginning of the observation period; or ibuprofen followed by acetaminophen 3 hours later. Ibuprofen was administered at 10 mg/kg; acetaminophen at 15 mg/kg. Temperatures were measured hourly for 6 hours using a temporal artery thermometer. The primary outcome was temperature difference between treatment groups. Adverse-event data were not collected in this single treatment period study.
Sixty febrile episodes in 46 children were assessed. The mean (SD) age of the children was 3.4 (2.2) years, and 31 (51.7%) were girls. Differences among temperature curves were significant (P < 0.001; the combined and alternating arms had significantly better antipyresis compared with the ibuprofen-alone group at hours 4 to 6 (hour 4, P < 0.005; hours 5 and 6, P < 0.001). All but one of the children in the combined and alternating groups were afebrile at hours 4, 5, and 6. In contrast, for those receiving ibuprofen alone, 30%, 40%, and 50% had temperatures >38.0°C at hours 4, 5, and 6, respectively (hour 4, P < 0.002; hours 5 and 6, P < 0.001).
During a single 6-hour observation period for these participating children, combined and alternating doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen provided greater antipyresis than ibuprofen alone at 4 to 6 hours.
PMCID: PMC3614072  PMID: 21353111
fever; antipyretic; acetaminophen; ibuprofen
8.  A multi-center, randomized, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and pharmacokinetics of intravenous ibuprofen for the treatment of fever in critically ill and non-critically ill adults 
Critical Care  2010;14(3):R125.
Hospitalized patients are often unable to ingest or tolerate oral antipyretics and recently an aqueous formulation of intravenous (IV) ibuprofen was approved by the US-FDA for the reduction of fever in adults.
We evaluated IV ibuprofen to reduce fever exceeding 101.0°F, measured as the percentage of subjects achieving a temperature <101.0°F at four hours after a single dose of IV ibuprofen vs. placebo. Secondary evaluations included the effect on temperature at 24 hours. Nine sites randomized patients to receive either a placebo or IV ibuprofen (100, 200, or 400 mg), and patients were given four hours for six doses. Subjects were excluded for platelet count <30 k and/or creatinine >3.0 mg/dL.
At entry, there were no significant baseline differences between the IV ibuprofen group and placebo, n = 120. At four hours, the number (percentage) with T<101.0°F was: Placebo n = 9/28 (32%); 100 mg IV ibuprofen n = 19/31 (61%), P = 0.0264; 200 mg IV ibuprofen n = 21/30 (70%) P = 0.0043; 400 mg IV ibuprofen n = 24/31 (77%) P = 0.0005. A total of 53/120 patients (44%) were prospectively defined as critically ill at baseline and similar temperature reductions were observed in this subgroup. There were no statistically significant differences between treatment groups or when compared to placebo in transfusion, bleeding, renal failure or mortality.
All doses of IV ibuprofen tested reduced fever at four hours and throughout the first 24 hours of dosing. The 400 mg dose was effective in lowering temperature to normal and maintaining this over the first 24 hours of dosing. IV ibuprofen was effective in reducing fevers in critically ill and non-critically ill groups. Following 24 hours of administration of IV ibuprofen, no clinically significant differences in any safety parameter including renal function or bleeding occurred through the 28-day follow-up period.
Trial registrations registration number: NCT01131000.
PMCID: PMC2911773  PMID: 20591173
9.  Ibuprofen, paracetamol, and steam for patients with respiratory tract infections in primary care: pragmatic randomised factorial trial 
Objective To assess strategies for advice on analgesia and steam inhalation for respiratory tract infections.
Design Open pragmatic parallel group factorial randomised controlled trial.
Setting Primary care in United Kingdom.
Participants Patients aged ≥3 with acute respiratory tract infections.
Intervention 889 patients were randomised with computer generated random numbers in pre-prepared sealed numbered envelopes to components of advice or comparator advice: advice on analgesia (take paracetamol, ibuprofen, or both), dosing of analgesia (take as required v regularly), and steam inhalation (no inhalation v steam inhalation).
Outcomes Primary: mean symptom severity on days 2-4; symptoms rated 0 (no problem) to 7 (as bad as it can be). Secondary: temperature, antibiotic use, reconsultations.
Results Neither advice on dosing nor on steam inhalation was significantly associated with changes in outcomes. Compared with paracetamol, symptom severity was little different with ibuprofen (adjusted difference 0.04, 95% confidence interval −0.11 to 0.19) or the combination of ibuprofen and paracetamol (0.11, −0.04 to 0.26). There was no evidence for selective benefit with ibuprofen among most subgroups defined before analysis (presence of otalgia; previous duration of symptoms; temperature >37.5°C; severe symptoms), but there was evidence of reduced symptoms severity benefit in the subgroup with chest infections (ibuprofen −0.40, −0.78 to −0.01; combination −0.47; −0.84 to −0.10), equivalent to almost one in two symptoms rated as a slight rather than a moderately bad problem. Children might also benefit from treatment with ibuprofen (ibuprofen: −0.47, −0.76 to −0.18; combination: −0.04, −0.31 to 0.23). Reconsultations with new/unresolved symptoms or complications were documented in 12% of those advised to take paracetamol, 20% of those advised to take ibuprofen (adjusted risk ratio 1.67, 1.12 to 2.38), and 17% of those advised to take the combination (1.49, 0.98 to 2.18). Mild thermal injury with steam was documented for four patients (2%) who returned full diaries, but no reconsultations with scalding were documented.
Conclusion Overall advice to use steam inhalation, or ibuprofen rather than paracetamol, does not help control symptoms in patients with acute respiratory tract infections and must be balanced against the possible progression of symptoms during the next month for a minority of patients. Advice to use ibuprofen might help short term control of symptoms in those with chest infections and in children.
Trial registration ISRCTN 38551726.
PMCID: PMC3808081  PMID: 24162940
10.  Effectiveness and tolerability of once-daily nimesulide versus ibuprofen in pain management after surgical extraction of an impacted third molar: A 24-hour, double-blind, randomized, double-dummy, parallel-group study 
Nimesulide is a nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drug that hasbeen used for a wide range of acute and chronic pain. A once-daily formulation of nimesulide is now commercially available, but its effectiveness in pain management after dental surgery has not been assessed.
The aim of this study was to assess the analgesic effectiveness and tolerability of oral treatment with once-daily nimesulide versus ibuprofen q6h over 24 hours in patients with postoperative pain associated with surgical extraction of an impacted third molar.
This 24-hour, double-blind, randomized, double-dummy, parallel-groupstudy was conducted at a private practice in Caracas, Venezuela. Patients aged between 12 and 60 years with moderate to severe pain after extraction of an impacted third molar were enrolled. Patients were randomized to receive a single dose of nimesulide (300-mg tablet) or ibuprofen (400-mg tablets) q6h for 24 hours. For double-dummy design, patients in the nimesulide group also received ibuprofen placebo tablets, to be taken q6h for 24 hours, and patients in the ibuprofen group received a nimesulide placebo tablet. The primary end points were pain intensity (PI) and pain relief scores over 24 hours. Secondary end points included total pain relief, PI difference (PID), sum of PID (SPID), time to first measurable change in PI (ie, PID ≥ 10 mm), and use of rescue medication (acetaminophen). Patients also rated the treatment's effectiveness as very poor to very good on questioning by the study investigator. Spontaneously reported adverse effects (AEs) were recorded.
Eighty-six patients were enrolled (56 females, 30 males), with 43 patientsper treatment group (mean age: nimesulide group, 25.2 years; ibuprofen group, 24.2 years). The baseline characteristics were statistically similar between the 2 groups. Compared with baseline, mean PI scores were significantly lower in both treatment groups at all time points throughout the study (P < 0.001). Mean PI scores were significantly lower in the nimesulide group compared with the ibuprofen group at 15 and 45 minutes and 1 hour after study drug administration (P ≤ 0.049). Time to first measurable change in PI was within the first 15 minutes in 22 patients (52%) in the nimesulide group and in 14 patients (33%) in the ibuprofen group (P = 0.03). Analgesia lasted 24 hours with nimesulide and ibuprofen (PI scores at 24 hours, 9.4 and 3.6, respectively). The mean PR score was significantly lower in the nimesulide group compared with the ibuprofen group at 1 hour after study drug administration (P = 0.049). Compared with baseline, PID and SPID were significantly higher in both treatment groups throughout the study (P < 0.001). Significantly more patients in the nimesulide group than in the ibuprofen group reported that treatment provided effective pain relief (82% vs 73%; P = 0.013). No AEs were reported in either treatment group throughout the study. Use of rescue medication was statistically similar between the nimesulide and ibuprofen groups (38% and 31%, respectively).
In this study of patients with moderate to severe pain afterextraction of impacted third molars, nimesulide and ibuprofen provided effective 24-hour relief. However, the results suggest that the analgesic effect of nimesulide had a faster onset (<15 minutes) and was stronger (based on patient opinion) than that of ibuprofen. Both study drugs were well tolerated.
PMCID: PMC3964531  PMID: 24672121
nimesulide; ibuprofen; dental pain; programmed liberation
11.  The IPSO study: ibuprofen, paracetamol study in osteoarthritis. A randomised comparative clinical study comparing the efficacy and safety of ibuprofen and paracetamol analgesic treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee or hip 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2004;63(9):1028-1034.
Objective: To compare the analgesic efficacy of single and multiple doses of ibuprofen with that of paracetamol in patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis (IPSO study).
Method: 222 patients were randomised in a double blind, multicentre study—156 (70%) had a painful knee joint and 66 (30%) a painful hip joint. The main efficacy criterion was pain intensity assessment after a single dose (ibuprofen 400 mg, paracetamol 1000 mg). Functional disability assessment and patient global assessment were carried out over 14 days.
Results: The sum of the pain intensity difference over 6 hours after the first administration was significantly higher (p = 0.046) in the ibuprofen group than in the paracetamol group. Over 14 days pain intensity decreased from the first day and was significantly lower in the ibuprofen group than in the paracetamol group (p<0.05). The functional disability of the patient was assessed using the WOMAC; the ibuprofen group improved significantly over 2 weeks compared with the paracetamol group for each of the subscales: stiffness (p<0.002), pain (p<0.001), physical function (p<0.002). The drugs were equally safe.
Conclusion: The IPSO study shows that for the treatment of osteoarthritic pain, ibuprofen 400 mg at a single and multiple dose (1200 mg/day) for 14 days is more effective than paracetamol, either as a single dose of 1000 mg or a multiple dose (3000 mg/day). Because ibuprofen and paracetamol have similar tolerability, this study indicates that the efficacy/tolerability ratio of ibuprofen is better than that of paracetamol in this indication over 14 days.
PMCID: PMC1755112  PMID: 15308513
12.  Scottish and Newcastle Antiemetic Pre-treatment for paracetamol poisoning study (SNAP) 
Paracetamol (acetaminophen) poisoning remains the commonest cause of acute liver injury in Europe and North America. The intravenous (IV) N-acetylcysteine (NAC) regimen introduced in the 1970s has continued effectively unchanged. This involves 3 different infusion regimens (dose and time) lasting over 20 hours. The same weight-related dose of NAC is used irrespective of paracetamol dose. Complications include frequent nausea and vomiting, anaphylactoid reactions and dosing errors. We designed a randomised controlled study investigating the efficacy of antiemetic pre-treatment (ondansetron) using standard NAC and a modified, shorter, regimen.
We designed a double-blind trial using a 2 × 2 factorial design involving four parallel groups. Pre-treatment with ondansetron 4 mg IV was compared against placebo on nausea and vomiting following the standard (20.25 h) regimen, or a novel 12 h NAC regimen in paracetamol poisoning. Each delivered 300 mg/kg bodyweight NAC. Randomisation was stratified on: paracetamol dose, perceived risk factors, and time to presentation. The primary outcome was the incidence of nausea and vomiting following NAC. In addition the frequency of anaphylactoid reactions and end of treatment liver function documented. Where clinically necessary further doses of NAC were administered as per standard UK protocols at the end of the first antidote course.
This study is primarily designed to test the efficacy of prophylactic anti-emetic therapy with ondansetron, but is the first attempt to formally examine new methods of administering IV NAC in paracetamol overdose. We anticipate, from volunteer studies, that nausea and vomiting will be less frequent with the new NAC regimen. In addition as anaphylactoid response appears related to plasma concentrations of both NAC and paracetamol anaphylactoid reactions should be less likely. This study is not powered to assess the relative efficacy of the two NAC regimens, however it will give useful information to power future studies. As the first formal randomised clinical trial in this patient group in over 30 years this study will also provide information to support further studies in patients in paracetamol overdose, particularly, when linked with modern novel biomarkers of liver damage, patients at different toxicity risk.
Trial registration
EudraCT number 2009-017800-10, IdentifierNCT01050270
PMCID: PMC3626543  PMID: 23556549
Paracetamol; Acetylcysteine; Overdose; Antidotes; Hepatotoxicity
13.  Temporal profile of body temperature in acute ischemic stroke: relation to stroke severity and outcome 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:123.
Pyrexia after stroke (temperature ≥37.5°C) is associated with poor prognosis, but information on timing of body temperature changes and relationship to stroke severity and subtypes varies.
We recruited patients with acute ischemic stroke, measured stroke severity, stroke subtype and recorded four-hourly tympanic (body) temperature readings from admission to 120 hours after stroke. We sought causes of pyrexia and measured functional outcome at 90 days. We systematically summarised all relevant previous studies.
Amongst 44 patients (21 males, mean age 72 years SD 11) with median National Institute of Health Stroke Score (NIHSS) 7 (range 0–28), 14 had total anterior circulation strokes (TACS). On admission all patients, both TACS and non-TACS, were normothermic (median 36.3°C vs 36.5°C, p=0.382 respectively) at median 4 hours (interquartile range, IQR, 2–8) after stroke; admission temperature and NIHSS were not associated (r2=0.0, p=0.353). Peak temperature, occurring at 35.5 (IQR 19.0 to 53.8) hours after stroke, was higher in TACS (37.7°C) than non-TACS (37.1°C, p<0.001) and was associated with admission NIHSS (r2=0.20, p=0.002). Poor outcome (modified Rankin Scale ≥3) at 90 days was associated with higher admission (36.6°C vs. 36.2°C p=0.031) and peak (37.4°C vs. 37.0°C, p=0.016) temperatures. Sixteen (36%) patients became pyrexial, in seven (44%) of whom we found no cause other than the stroke.
Normothermia is usual within the first 4 hours of stroke. Peak temperature occurs at 1.5 to 2 days after stroke, and is related to stroke severity/subtype and more closely associated with poor outcome than admission temperature. Temperature-outcome associations after stroke are complex, but normothermia on admission should not preclude randomisation of patients into trials of therapeutic hypothermia.
PMCID: PMC3607983  PMID: 23075282
Ischemic stroke; Tympanic body temperature; Pyrexia; Outcome; OCSP
14.  A dose ranging study of ibuprofen suspension as an antipyretic. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1991;66(9):1037-1042.
A double blind trial was conducted to determine the dose of ibuprofen suspension, which is effective in reducing the body temperature. The principal measure of efficacy was a reduction in axillary temperature of 1 degree C or more three hours after dosing. A second objective of the trial was to compare the incidence and severity of side effects and the palatability of a range of ibuprofen doses. Ninety three children were included in the analysis. All four doses of ibuprofen studied (0.625 mg/kg-5 mg/kg) were associated with temperature reduction and only the lowest dose failed to satisfy the principal measure of efficacy. The influence of dose on the magnitude of the body temperature reduction was significant and the 5 mg/kg dose achieved the largest mean reduction in body temperature (2 degrees C). The tolerability and palatability of all doses studied were excellent. These findings suggest that ibuprofen is a good alternative to paracetamol as an antipyretic.
PMCID: PMC1793061  PMID: 1929509
15.  A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of paracetamol and ketoprofren lysine salt for pain control in children with pharyngotonsillitis cared by family pediatricians 
To evaluate the analgesic effect and tolerability of paracetamol syrup compared to placebo and ketoprofen lysine salt in children with pharyngotonsillitis cared by family pediatricians.
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of a 12 mg/kg single dose of paracetamol paralleled by open-label ketoprofren lysine salt sachet 40 mg. Six to 12 years old children with diagnosis of pharyngo-tonsillitis and a Children's Sore Throat Pain (CSTP) Thermometer score > 120 mm were enrolled. Primary endpoint was the Sum of Pain Intensity Differences (SPID) of the CSTP Intensity scale by the child.
97 children were equally randomized to paracetamol, placebo or ketoprofen. Paracetamol was significantly more effective than placebo in the SPID of children and parents (P < 0.05) but not in the SPID reported by investigators, 1 hour after drug administration. Global evaluation of efficacy showed a statistically significant advantage of paracetamol over placebo after 1 hour either for children, parents or investigators. Patients treated in open fashion with ketoprofen lysine salt, showed similar improvement in pain over time. All treatments were well-tolerated.
A single oral dose of paracetamol or ketoprofen lysine salt are safe and effective analgesic treatments for children with sore throat in daily pediatric ambulatory care.
PMCID: PMC3192740  PMID: 21958958
paracetamol; ketoprofen lysine salt; placebo; randomized double blind clinical trial; family pediatricians
16.  Tolerability and adverse events in clinical trials of celecoxib in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis: systematic review and meta-analysis of information from company clinical trial reports 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(3):R644-R665.
The objective was to improve understanding of adverse events occurring with celecoxib in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Data were extracted from company clinical trial reports of randomised trials of celecoxib in osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis lasting 2 weeks or more. Outcomes were discontinuations (all cause, lack of efficacy, adverse event, gastrointestinal adverse event), endoscopically detected ulcers, gastrointestinal or cardio-renal events, and major changes in haematological parameters. The main comparisons were celecoxib (all doses) versus placebo, paracetamol (acetaminophen) 4,000 mg daily, rofecoxib 25 mg daily, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (naproxen, diclofenac, ibuprofen, and loxoprofen). For NSAIDs, celecoxib was compared both at all doses and at licensed doses (200 to 400 mg daily). Thirty-one trials included 39,605 randomised patients. Most patients had osteoarthritis and were women of average age 60 years or above. Most trials lasted 12 weeks or more. Doses of celecoxib were 50 to 800 mg/day. Compared with placebo, celecoxib had fewer discontinuations for any cause or for lack of efficacy, fewer serious adverse events, and less nausea. It had more patients with dyspepsia, diarrhoea, oedema, more adverse events that were gastrointestinal or treatment related, and more patients experiencing an adverse event. There were no differences for hypertension, gastrointestinal tolerability, or discontinuations for adverse events. Compared with paracetamol, celecoxib had fewer discontinuations for any cause, for lack of efficacy, or diarrhoea, but no other differences. Compared with rofecoxib, celecoxib had fewer patients with abdominal pain and oedema, but no other differences. Compared with NSAIDs, celecoxib had fewer symptomatic ulcers and bleeds, endoscopically detected ulcers, and discontinuations for adverse events or gastrointestinal adverse events. Fewer patients had any, or a gastrointestinal, or a treatment-related adverse event, or vomiting, abdominal pain, dyspepsia, or reduced haemoglobin or haematocrit. Discontinuations for lack of efficacy were higher. No differences were found for all-cause discontinuations, serious adverse events, hypertension, diarrhoea, nausea, oedema, myocardial infarction, cardiac failure, or raised creatinine. Company clinical trial reports present much more information than published papers. Adverse event information is clearly presented in company clinical trial reports, which are an ideal source of information for systematic review and meta-analysis.
PMCID: PMC1174947  PMID: 15899051
17.  Effect of acetaminophen and fluvastatin on post-dose symptoms following infusion of zoledronic acid 
Osteoporosis International  2010;22(8):2337-2345.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study assessed the efficacy of acetaminophen or fluvastatin in preventing post-dose symptoms (increases in body temperature or use of rescue medication) following a single infusion of the intravenous (IV) bisphosphonate zoledronic acid (ZOL). Acetaminophen, but not fluvastatin, significantly reduced the incidence and severity of post-dose symptoms.
Transient symptoms including myalgia and pyrexia have been reported post-infusion of IV bisphosphonates, typically starting the day after infusion and resolving within several days. The cause is unknown but may be related to transient cytokine elevations. Statins’ potential to block release of these cytokines has been hypothesized. This study was aimed to evaluate efficacy of acetaminophen and fluvastatin in preventing/reducing post-dose symptoms following ZOL 5 mg infusion.
Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of efficacy of acetaminophen or fluvastatin in preventing increases in body temperature or use of rescue medication (ibuprofen) following a single ZOL infusion. Bisphosphonate-naive postmenopausal women with low bone mass (N = 793) were randomized into three treatment groups and given 650 mg acetaminophen or 80 mg fluvastatin or placebo 45 min before ZOL infusion. The acetaminophen group continued taking 650 mg acetaminophen every 6 h over the next 3 days, and the other two groups took matching placebo according to the same schedule. Subjects recorded body temperature, symptoms in a diary. Inflammatory cytokines and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured at baseline, 24, and 72 h in a study subset.
Acetaminophen four times/day significantly reduced the incidence and severity of post-dose symptoms following ZOL infusion. Single-dose fluvastatin 80 mg prior to ZOL infusion did not prevent/reduce post-dose symptoms. Cytokine levels increased by 24 h and returned towards baseline by 72 h, similar to the pattern for post-infusion symptoms. CRP levels increased from baseline to 72 h.
Acetaminophen four times/day for 3 days significantly reduced the incidence and severity of post-dose symptoms following ZOL infusion.
PMCID: PMC3132314  PMID: 21116816
Cytokines; Fluvastatin; Inflammatory biomarkers; Osteoporosis; Post-dose symptoms; Zoledronic acid
18.  Comparing efficacy and tolerability of ibuprofen and paracetamol in fever. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1996;74(2):164-167.
The purpose of this study was to compare antipyretic activity and evaluate tolerability of ibuprofen and paracetamol suspension in the treatment of febrile children. It was designed as a double blind, parallel group, multiple dose study comparing ibuprofen (20 mg/kg/24 hours) with paracetamol (50 mg/kg/24 hours) given at six hourly intervals for a maximum of 12 doses. Children on paediatric wards between the ages of 0.2 and 12 years, with fever as defined by an axillary temperature > or = 37.5 degrees C, were included. The main outcome measures were: change in axillary temperature; palatability of medication; changes in irritability and clinical condition; overall efficacy at the end of treatment; and number and nature of adverse events. The mean temperature change from baseline at four hours was -1.8 degrees C and -1.6 degrees C in ibuprofen and paracetamol groups respectively. In both groups: median palatability score was 'no reaction'; median irritability score at end point was 'not irritable'; median score for change in clinical condition was 'improved'; and median score for overall efficacy was 'good effect'. The proportion of patients experiencing adverse events was similar in both groups, the majority of events having doubtful or no relationship to therapy and being mild in severity. In conclusion, ibuprofen suspension was as effective and well tolerated as paracetamol in treatment of fever in young children.
PMCID: PMC1511501  PMID: 8660083
19.  An open-label randomized clinical trial of prophylactic paracetamol coadministered with 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and hexavalent diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, 3-component acellular pertussis, hepatitis B, inactivated poliovirus, and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:98.
In two clinical trials, low-grade fever was observed more frequently after coadministration than after separate administration of two recommended routine pediatric vaccines. Since fever is an important issue with vaccine tolerability, we performed this open-label study on the efficacy and safety of prophylactic use of paracetamol (acetaminophen, Benuron®) in children administered routine 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-7) coadministered with hexavalent vaccine (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-hepatitis B, poliovirus, Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine [DTPa-HBV-IPV/Hib]) in Germany.
Healthy infants (N = 301) who received a 3-dose infant series of PCV-7 and DTPa-HBV-IPV/Hib plus a toddler dose were randomly assigned 1:1 to prophylactic paracetamol (125 mg or 250 mg suppositories, based on body weight) at vaccination, and at 6–8 hour intervals thereafter, or a control group that received no paracetamol. Rectal temperature and local and other systemic reactions were measured for 4 days post vaccination; adverse events were collected throughout the study.
In the intent-to-treat population, paracetamol reduced the incidence of fever ≥38°C, but this reduction was only significant for the infant series, with computed efficacy of 43.0% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 17.4, 61.2), and not significant after the toddler dose (efficacy 15.9%; 95% CI: −19.9, 41.3); results were similar in the per protocol (PP) population. Fever >39°C was rare during the infant series, such that there were too few cases for assessment. After the toddler dose, paracetamol effectively reduced fever >39°C, reaching statistical significance in the PP population only (efficacy 79%; 95% CI: 3.9, 97.7). Paracetamol also reduced reactogenicity, but there were few significant differences between groups after any dose. No vaccine-related serious adverse events were reported.
Paracetamol effectively prevented fever and other reactions, mainly during the infant series. However, as events were generally mild and of no concern in either group our data support current recommendations to administer paracetamol to treat symptoms only and not for routine prophylaxis.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3698010  PMID: 23786774
Fever; Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; Hexavalent vaccine; Paracetamol; Prophylaxis
20.  Paracetamol plus ibuprofen for the treatment of fever in children (PITCH): economic evaluation of a randomised controlled trial 
Objective To estimate the cost to the NHS and to parents and carers of treating febrile preschool children with paracetamol, ibuprofen, or both, and to compare these costs with the benefits of each treatment regimen.
Design Cost consequences analysis and cost effectiveness analysis conducted as part of a three arm, randomised controlled trial.
Participants Children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years recruited from primary care and the community with axillary temperatures ≥37.8°C and ≤41°C.
Interventions Paracetamol, ibuprofen, or both drugs.
Main outcome measures Costs to the NHS and to parents and carers. Cost consequences analysis at 48 hours and 5 days comparing cost with children’s temperature, discomfort, activity, appetite, and sleep; cost effectiveness analysis at 48 hours comparing cost with percentage of children “recovered.”
Results Difficulties in recruiting children to the trial lowered the precision of the estimates of cost and some outcomes. At 48 hours, cost to the NHS was £11.33 for paracetamol, £8.49 for ibuprofen, and £8.16 for both drugs. By day 5 these costs rose to £19.63, £18.36, and £13.92 respectively. For parents and carers, the 48 hour costs were £23.86 for paracetamol, £20.60 for ibuprofen, and £25.07 for both, and the day 5 costs were £26.35, £29.90, and £24.02 respectively. Outcomes measured at 48 hours and 5 days were inconclusive because of lack of power; the cost effectiveness analysis at 48 hours provided little evidence that one treatment choice was significantly more cost effective than another. At 4 hours ibuprofen and the combined treatment were superior to paracetamol in terms of the trial primary outcome of time without fever; at 24 hours the combined treatment performed best on this outcome.
Conclusions There is no strong evidence of a difference in cost between the treatments, but clinical and cost data together indicate that using both drugs together may be most cost effective over the course of the illness. This treatment option performs best and is no more expensive because of less use of healthcare resources, resulting in lower costs to the NHS and to parents.
PMCID: PMC2658467  PMID: 18782838
21.  PACE - The first placebo controlled trial of paracetamol for acute low back pain: design of a randomised controlled trial 
Clinical practice guidelines recommend that the initial treatment of acute low back pain (LBP) should consist of advice to stay active and regular simple analgesics such as paracetamol 4 g daily. Despite this recommendation in all international LBP guidelines there are no placebo controlled trials assessing the efficacy of paracetamol for LBP at any dose or dose regimen. This study aims to determine whether 4 g of paracetamol daily (in divided doses) results in a more rapid recovery from acute LBP than placebo. A secondary aim is to determine if ingesting paracetamol in a time-contingent manner is more effective than paracetamol taken when required (PRN) for recovery from acute LBP.
The study is a randomised double dummy placebo controlled trial. 1650 care seeking people with significant acute LBP will be recruited. All participants will receive advice to stay active and will be randomised to 1 of 3 treatment groups: time-contingent paracetamol dose regimen (plus placebo PRN paracetamol), PRN paracetamol (plus placebo time-contingent paracetamol) or a double placebo study arm. The primary outcome will be time (days) to recovery from pain recorded in a daily pain diary. Other outcomes will be pain intensity, disability, function, global perceived effect and sleep quality, captured at baseline and at weeks 1, 2, 4 and 12 by an assessor blind to treatment allocation. An economic analysis will be conducted to determine the cost-effectiveness of treatment from the health sector and societal perspectives.
The successful completion of the trial will provide the first high quality evidence on the effectiveness of the use of paracetamol, a guideline endorsed treatment for acute LBP.
Trail registration
PMCID: PMC2918542  PMID: 20650012
22.  Randomized trial of the effect of intravenous paracetamol on inflammatory biomarkers and outcome in febrile critically ill adults 
Background and the purpose of the study
The febrile reaction is a complex response involving immunologic and other physiologic systems. Antipyretics are commonly used in critically ill patients with fever. We investigated the inflammatory responses following application of antipyretic therapy in febrile critically ill patients with Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS).
Patients and methods
In a prospective, randomized controlled study, critically ill patients with fever (T ≥ 38.3°C), SIRS diagnosed within 24 hours of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II (APACHE II) score ≥10 were randomized into two groups. Upon appearance of fever, one group received intravenous paracetamol 650 mg every 6 hours for 10 days and other group received no treatment unless temperature reached 40°C. Body temperature, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II (APACHE II) and Sepsis-related Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) scores, length of ICU stay, ICU mortality and infectious complications were recorded. Levels of Interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1α), IL-6, IL-10, Tumour Necrosis Factor alpha (TNFα) and High-Sensitive C-Reactive Protein (HS-CRP) were assessed at baseline and 2, 6 and 24 hours after intervention.
Results and discussion
During a period of 15-month screening, 20 patients met the criteria and randomized to the control or paracetamol group. Body temperature decreased significantly in the paracetamol group (p = 0.004) and control group (p = 0.001) after 24 hours, but there was no significant difference between two groups at this time point (p = 0.649). Levels of IL-6 and IL-10 decreased significantly (p = 0.025 and p = 0.047, respectively) in the paracetamol group at 24 hours but this was not of statistical significance in control group. No patterns over time in each group or differences across two groups were found for HS-CRP, TNFα, and IL-1α (p > 0.05). There were no differences regarding ICU length of stay, mortality and infectious complications between both groups.
These results suggest that antipyretic therapy may not be indicated in all ICU patients. Allowing fever to take its natural course does not appear to have detrimental effects on critically ill patients with SIRS and may avoid unnecessary expenses.
PMCID: PMC3555853  PMID: 23351502
Fever; Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS); Intensive Care Unit (ICU); Paracetamol; Cytokines
23.  Collaborative meta-analysis of randomised trials of antiplatelet therapy for prevention of death, myocardial infarction, and stroke in high risk patients 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;324(7329):71-86.
To determine the effects of antiplatelet therapy among patients at high risk of occlusive vascular events.
Collaborative meta-analyses (systematic overviews).
Inclusion criteria
Randomised trials of an antiplatelet regimen versus control or of one antiplatelet regimen versus another in high risk patients (with acute or previous vascular disease or some other predisposing condition) from which results were available before September 1997. Trials had to use a method of randomisation that precluded prior knowledge of the next treatment to be allocated and comparisons had to be unconfounded—that is, have study groups that differed only in terms of antiplatelet regimen.
Studies reviewed
287 studies involving 135 000 patients in comparisons of antiplatelet therapy versus control and 77 000 in comparisons of different antiplatelet regimens.
Main outcome measure
“Serious vascular event”: non-fatal myocardial infarction, non-fatal stroke, or vascular death.
Overall, among these high risk patients, allocation to antiplatelet therapy reduced the combined outcome of any serious vascular event by about one quarter; non-fatal myocardial infarction was reduced by one third, non-fatal stroke by one quarter, and vascular mortality by one sixth (with no apparent adverse effect on other deaths). Absolute reductions in the risk of having a serious vascular event were 36 (SE 5) per 1000 treated for two years among patients with previous myocardial infarction; 38 (5) per 1000 patients treated for one month among patients with acute myocardial infarction; 36 (6) per 1000 treated for two years among those with previous stroke or transient ischaemic attack; 9 (3) per 1000 treated for three weeks among those with acute stroke; and 22 (3) per 1000 treated for two years among other high risk patients (with separately significant results for those with stable angina (P=0.0005), peripheral arterial disease (P=0.004), and atrial fibrillation (P=0.01)). In each of these high risk categories, the absolute benefits substantially outweighed the absolute risks of major extracranial bleeding. Aspirin was the most widely studied antiplatelet drug, with doses of 75-150 mg daily at least as effective as higher daily doses. The effects of doses lower than 75 mg daily were less certain. Clopidogrel reduced serious vascular events by 10% (4%) compared with aspirin, which was similar to the 12% (7%) reduction observed with its analogue ticlopidine. Addition of dipyridamole to aspirin produced no significant further reduction in vascular events compared with aspirin alone. Among patients at high risk of immediate coronary occlusion, short term addition of an intravenous glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonist to aspirin prevented a further 20 (4) vascular events per 1000 (P<0.0001) but caused 23 major (but rarely fatal) extracranial bleeds per 1000.
Aspirin (or another oral antiplatelet drug) is protective in most types of patient at increased risk of occlusive vascular events, including those with an acute myocardial infarction or ischaemic stroke, unstable or stable angina, previous myocardial infarction, stroke or cerebral ischaemia, peripheral arterial disease, or atrial fibrillation. Low dose aspirin (75-150 mg daily) is an effective antiplatelet regimen for long term use, but in acute settings an initial loading dose of at least 150 mg aspirin may be required. Adding a second antiplatelet drug to aspirin may produce additional benefits in some clinical circumstances, but more research into this strategy is needed.
What is already known on this topicAntiplatelet therapy is effective for short term treatment of patients with suspected acute myocardial infarction and unstable anginaLong term treatment is beneficial for patients who have had a myocardial infarction, stroke, or transient ischaemic attackDaily aspirin doses of 75-325 mg are effectiveWhat this study addsAntiplatelet therapy protects against vascular events among patients with stable angina, intermittent claudication, and (if oral anticoagulants are unsuitable) atrial fibrillationAntiplatelet therapy can be started promptly during acute presumed ischaemic stroke and continued long termDaily aspirin doses of 75-150 mg seem to be as effective as higher doses for long term treatments (and clopidrogel is an appropriate alternative for patients with a contraindication to aspirin)Short term addition of a glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonist to aspirin prevents vascular events in patients having percutaneous coronary intervention and those with unstable angina but causes increased bleeding
PMCID: PMC64503  PMID: 11786451
24.  Interrupted Time-Series Analysis of Regulations to Reduce Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) Poisoning 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(4):e105.
Paracetamol (acetaminophen) poisoning is the leading cause of acute liver failure in Great Britain and the United States. Successful interventions to reduced harm from paracetamol poisoning are needed. To achieve this, the government of the United Kingdom introduced legislation in 1998 limiting the pack size of paracetamol sold in shops. Several studies have reported recent decreases in fatal poisonings involving paracetamol. We use interrupted time-series analysis to evaluate whether the recent fall in the number of paracetamol deaths is different to trends in fatal poisoning involving aspirin, paracetamol compounds, antidepressants, or nondrug poisoning suicide.
Methods and Findings
We calculated directly age-standardised mortality rates for paracetamol poisoning in England and Wales from 1993 to 2004. We used an ordinary least-squares regression model divided into pre- and postintervention segments at 1999. The model included a term for autocorrelation within the time series. We tested for changes in the level and slope between the pre- and postintervention segments. To assess whether observed changes in the time series were unique to paracetamol, we compared against poisoning deaths involving compound paracetamol (not covered by the regulations), aspirin, antidepressants, and nonpoisoning suicide deaths. We did this comparison by calculating a ratio of each comparison series with paracetamol and applying a segmented regression model to the ratios. No change in the ratio level or slope indicated no difference compared to the control series. There were about 2,200 deaths involving paracetamol. The age-standardised mortality rate rose from 8.1 per million in 1993 to 8.8 per million in 1997, subsequently falling to about 5.3 per million in 2004. After the regulations were introduced, deaths dropped by 2.69 per million (p = 0.003). Trends in the age-standardised mortality rate for paracetamol compounds, aspirin, and antidepressants were broadly similar to paracetamol, increasing until 1997 and then declining. Nondrug poisoning suicide also declined during the study period, but was highest in 1993. The segmented regression models showed that the age-standardised mortality rate for compound paracetamol dropped less after the regulations (p = 0.012) but declined more rapidly afterward (p = 0.031). However, age-standardised rates for aspirin and antidepressants fell in a similar way to paracetamol after the regulations. Nondrug poisoning suicide declined at a similar rate to paracetamol after the regulations were introduced.
Introduction of regulations to limit availability of paracetamol coincided with a decrease in paracetamol-poisoning mortality. However, fatal poisoning involving aspirin, antidepressants, and to a lesser degree, paracetamol compounds, also showed similar trends. This raises the question whether the decline in paracetamol deaths was due to the regulations or was part of a wider trend in decreasing drug-poisoning mortality. We found little evidence to support the hypothesis that the 1998 regulations limiting pack size resulted in a greater reduction in poisoning deaths involving paracetamol than occurred for other drugs or nondrug poisoning suicide.
Analysis of mortality rates for paracetamol poisoning in England and Wales does not support the view that regulations limiting pack size have been responsible for a reduction in deaths.
Editors' Summary
Paracetamol—known as acetaminophen in the United States—is a cheap and effective painkiller. It is widely used to relieve minor aches and pains as well as fevers and headaches. Recommended doses of paracetamol are considered safe in humans, but overdoses are toxic and can cause liver failure and death. Because this drug is very easy to get hold of, there are many overdoses each year, either accidental or deliberate. In the UK, paracetamol poisoning is the most common cause of acute liver failure. Toward the end of 1998, new laws were introduced in the UK to try to reduce the number of paracetamol overdoses. These laws said that pharmacies could not sell packs of paracetamol containing more than 32 tablets and other shops could not sell packs with more than 16 tablets. One of the reasons behind the introduction of this law was that many suicides are not preplanned and, therefore, if it was harder for people to get hold of or keep large quantities of tablets, they might be less likely to attempt suicide or accidentally overdose.
Why Was This Study Done?
Following the introduction of these new laws, the number of deaths caused by paracetamol overdose in the UK dropped. However, it is possible that the drop in deaths came about for a variety of different reasons and not just as a result of the new laws on paracetamol pack size. For example, the suicide rate might have been falling anyway due to other changes in society and the fall in death rate from paracetamol might just have been part of that trend. It is important to find out whether the legal changes that were introduced to address a public health problem did in fact bring about a change for the better. This knowledge would also be relevant to other countries that are considering similar changes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from the Office of National Statistics, which holds information on drug poisoning deaths in England and Wales. These data were then broken down by the type of drug that was mentioned on the death certificate. The researchers compared death rates involving the following drugs: paracetamol; paracetamol-containing compounds (which were not subject to the new pack size laws); aspirin; antidepressant drugs; and then finally non-drug poisoning suicides. The reason for comparing death rates involving paracetamol against death rates involving other drugs, or non-drug suicide, was that this method would allow the researchers to see if the drop in paracetamol deaths followed overall trends in the poisoning or suicide rates or not. If the paracetamol death rate dropped following introduction of the new laws but the rates of other types of poisoning or suicide did not, then there would be a link between the new laws and a fall in paracetamol suicides. The researchers compared these death data within specific time periods before the end of 1998 (when the new laws on paracetamol pack size were introduced) and after.
Overall, there were nearly 2,200 deaths involving paracetamol between 1993 and 2004. The number of deaths per year involving paracetamol dropped substantially when comparing the periods of time before the end of 1998 and after it. However, the number of deaths per year involving any drug, and the non-drug suicides, also fell during this period of time. When comparing the trends for paracetamol deaths with other poisoning or suicide deaths, the researchers did not find any statistical evidence that the fall in paracetamol deaths was any different to the overall trend in poisoning or suicide death rates.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although the paracetamol death rate fell immediately following the new laws on pack size, this study suggests the link might just be coincidence. The researchers could not find any data supporting the idea that the new laws caused a drop in paracetamol deaths. However, this was an observational study, not a true experimental one: the researchers here were clearly not able to set up equivalent “experimental” and “control” groups for comparison. It is very difficult to prove or disprove conclusively that new laws such as this are, or are not, effective.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from Medline Plus about suicide
Wikipedia has an entry on paracetamol (note that Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia anyone can edit)
Information about regulation of drugs in the UK is available from the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency
The Office for National Statistics provides key economic and social data about the UK, and is involved in many other important projects
PMCID: PMC1845154  PMID: 17407385
25.  Efficacy of anti-inflammatory or antibiotic treatment in patients with non-complicated acute bronchitis and discoloured sputum: randomised placebo controlled trial 
Objective To evaluate the efficacy of oral anti-inflammatory or antibiotic treatment compared with placebo in the resolution of cough in patients with uncomplicated acute bronchitis and discoloured sputum.
Design Multicentre, parallel, single blinded placebo controlled, randomised clinical trial.
Setting Nine primary care centres in Spain.
Participants Adults aged 18 to 70 presenting symptoms associated with respiratory tract infection of less than one week’s duration, with cough as the predominant symptom, the presence of discoloured sputum, and at least one other symptom of lower respiratory tract infection (dyspnoea, wheezing, chest discomfort, or chest pain).
Interventions Patients were randomised to receive either ibuprofen 600 mg three times daily, amoxicillin-clavulanic acid 500 mg/125 mg three times daily, or placebo three times daily for 10 days. The duration of symptoms was measured with a diary card.
Main outcome measure Number of days with frequent cough after the randomisation visit.
Results 416 participants were randomised (136 to ibuprofen, 137 to antibiotic, and 143 to placebo) and 390 returned their symptom diaries fully completed. The median number of days with frequent cough was slightly lower among patients assigned to ibuprofen (9 days, 95% confidence interval 8 to 10 days) compared with those receiving amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (11 days, 10 to 12 days) or placebo (11 days, 8 to 14 days), albeit without statistically significant differences. Neither amoxicillin-clavulanic acid nor ibuprofen increased the probability of cough resolution (hazard ratio 1.03, 95% confidence interval 0.78 to 1.35 and 1.23, 0.93 to 1.61, respectively) compared with placebo. Adverse events were observed in 27 patients, and were more common in the antibiotic arm (12%) than ibuprofen or placebo arms (5% and 3%, respectively; P<0.01).
Conclusion No significant differences were observed in the number of days with cough between patients with uncomplicated acute bronchitis and discoloured sputum treated with ibuprofen, amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, or placebo.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN07852892.
PMCID: PMC3790568  PMID: 24097128

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