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1.  Effect of the UK’s revised paracetamol poisoning management guidelines on admissions, adverse reactions and costs of treatment 
Aims
In September 2012 the UK’s Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) recommended changes in the management of paracetamol poisoning: use of a single ‘100 mg l−1’ nomogram treatment line, ceasing risk assessment, treating all staggered/uncertain ingestions and increasing the duration of the initial acetylcysteine (NAC) infusion from 15 to 60 min. We evaluated the effect of this on presentation, admission, treatment, adverse reactions and costs of paracetamol poisoning.
Methods
Data were prospectively collected from adult patients presenting to three large UK hospitals from 3 September 2011 to 3 September 2013 (year before and after change). Infusion duration effect on vomiting and anaphylactoid reactions was examined in one centre. A cost analysis from an NHS perspective was performed for 90 000 patients/annum with paracetamol overdose.
Results
There were increases in the numbers presenting to hospital (before 1703, after 1854; increase 8.9% [95% CI 1.9, 16.2], P = 0.011); admitted (1060/1703 [62.2%] vs. 1285/1854 [69.3%]; increase 7.1% [4.0, 10.2], P < 0.001) and proportion treated (626/1703 [36.8%] vs. 926/1854 [50.0%]; increase: 13.2% [95% CI 10.0, 16.4], P < 0.001). Increasing initial NAC infusion did not change the proportion of treated patients developing adverse reactions (15 min 87/323 [26.9%], 60 min 145/514 [28.2%]; increase: 1.3% [95% CI –4.9, 7.5], P = 0.682). Across the UK the estimated cost impact is £8.3 million (6.4 million–10.2 million) annually, with a cost-per-life saved of £17.4 million (13.4 million–21.5 million).
Conclusions
The changes introduced by the CHM in September 2012 have increased the numbers of patients admitted to hospital and treated with acetylcysteine without reducing adverse reactions. A safety and cost-benefit review of the CHM guidance is warranted, including novel treatment protocols and biomarkers in the assessment of poisoning.
doi:10.1111/bcp.12362
PMCID: PMC4243911  PMID: 24666324
acetylcysteine; adverse effects; paracetamol; poisoning; regulation
2.  Scottish and Newcastle Antiemetic Pre-treatment for paracetamol poisoning study (SNAP) 
Background
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.
Methods/Design
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.
Discussion
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, ClinicalTrials.gov IdentifierNCT01050270
doi:10.1186/2050-6511-14-20
PMCID: PMC3626543  PMID: 23556549
Paracetamol; Acetylcysteine; Overdose; Antidotes; Hepatotoxicity
3.  Mechanisms for an effect of acetylcysteine on renal function after exposure to radio-graphic contrast material: study protocol 
Background
Contrast-induced nephropathy is a common complication of contrast administration in patients with chronic kidney disease and diabetes. Its pathophysiology is not well understood; similarly the role of intravenous or oral acetylcysteine is unclear. Randomized controlled trials to date have been conducted without detailed knowledge of the effect of acetylcysteine on renal function. We are conducting a detailed mechanistic study of acetylcysteine on normal and impaired kidneys, both with and without contrast. This information would guide the choice of dose, route, and appropriate outcome measure for future clinical trials in patients with chronic kidney disease.
Methods/Design
We designed a 4-part study. We have set up randomised controlled cross-over studies to assess the effect of intravenous (50 mg/kg/hr for 2 hrs before contrast exposure, then 20 mg/kg/hr for 5 hrs) or oral acetylcysteine (1200 mg twice daily for 2 days, starting the day before contrast exposure) on renal function in normal and diseased kidneys, and normal kidneys exposed to contrast. We have also set up a parallel-group randomized controlled trial to assess the effect of intravenous or oral acetylcysteine on patients with chronic kidney disease stage III undergoing elective coronary angiography. The primary outcome is change in renal blood flow; secondary outcomes include change in glomerular filtration rate, tubular function, urinary proteins, and oxidative balance.
Discussion
Contrast-induced nephropathy represents a significant source of hospital morbidity and mortality. Over the last ten years, acetylcysteine has been administered prior to contrast to reduce the risk of contrast-induced nephropathy. Randomized controlled trials, however, have not reliably demonstrated renoprotection; a recent large randomized controlled trial assessing a dose of oral acetylcysteine selected without mechanistic insight did not reduce the incidence of contrast-induced nephropathy. Our study should reveal the mechanism of effect of acetylcysteine on renal function and identify an appropriate route for future dose response studies and in time randomized controlled trials.
Trial registration
Clinical Trials.gov: NCT00558142; EudraCT: 2006-003509-18.
doi:10.1186/1472-6904-12-3
PMCID: PMC3293780  PMID: 22305183
Contrast-induced nephropathy; acetylcysteine; prevention; kidney; contrast media
4.  Effect of the UK's revised paracetamol poisoning management guidelines on admissions, adverse reactions and costs of treatment 
Aims
In September 2012 the UK's Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) recommended changes in the management of paracetamol poisoning: use of a single ‘100 mg l−1’ nomogram treatment line, ceasing risk assessment, treating all staggered/uncertain ingestions and increasing the duration of the initial acetylcysteine (NAC) infusion from 15 to 60 min. We evaluated the effect of this on presentation, admission, treatment, adverse reactions and costs of paracetamol poisoning.
Methods
Data were prospectively collected from adult patients presenting to three large UK hospitals from 3 September 2011 to 3 September 2013 (year before and after change). Infusion duration effect on vomiting and anaphylactoid reactions was examined in one centre. A cost analysis from an NHS perspective was performed for 90 000 patients/annum with paracetamol overdose.
Results
There were increases in the numbers presenting to hospital (before 1703, after 1854; increase 8.9% [95% CI 1.9, 16.2], P = 0.011); admitted (1060/1703 [62.2%] vs. 1285/1854 [69.3%]; increase 7.1% [4.0, 10.2], P < 0.001) and proportion treated (626/1703 [36.8%] vs. 926/1854 [50.0%]; increase: 13.2% [95% CI 10.0, 16.4], P < 0.001). Increasing initial NAC infusion did not change the proportion of treated patients developing adverse reactions (15 min 87/323 [26.9%], 60 min 145/514 [28.2%]; increase: 1.3% [95% CI –4.9, 7.5], P = 0.682). Across the UK the estimated cost impact is £8.3 million (6.4 million–10.2 million) annually, with a cost-per-life saved of £17.4 million (13.4 million–21.5 million).
Conclusions
The changes introduced by the CHM in September 2012 have increased the numbers of patients admitted to hospital and treated with acetylcysteine without reducing adverse reactions. A safety and cost-benefit review of the CHM guidance is warranted, including novel treatment protocols and biomarkers in the assessment of poisoning.
doi:10.1111/bcp.12362
PMCID: PMC4243911  PMID: 24666324
acetylcysteine; adverse effects; paracetamol; poisoning; regulation

Results 1-4 (4)