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Acad Emerg Med. 1999 Oct;6(10):984-8.

A comparison of the bioavailabilities of oral and intravenous ethanol in healthy male volunteers.

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  • 1Finger Lakes Regional Poison and Drug Information Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center, NY 14642, USA.



Ethanol (EtOH), the antidote for methanol and ethylene glycol, is administered by the oral (PO) and intravenous (IV) routes. Serum concentrations (SCs) of 100 mg/dL or more are targeted for clinical effect. This study was completed to validate the assumption that there are minimal differences in SC achieved between these two routes.


Twenty healthy male volunteers were randomized to receive either PO or IV EtOH. Subjects abstained from EtOH for 48 hours before each phase. After a seven-day washout period, the subjects crossed over to the other group. Inclusion criteria were no history of medical problems, age between 21 and 40 years, and actual body weight within 10% of ideal weight. Baseline EtOH SCs were obtained before participation in each phase. Two hours after a standard breakfast, the subjects received 700 mg/kg of PO or IV EtOH. PO EtOH was administered as a 20% solution in juice over 10 minutes. IV EtOH, controlled by an infusion pump, was administered as a 10% solution over 30 minutes. Blood was drawn for EtOH SCs at 45, 75, 105, 135, 165, 225, 285, and 345 minutes after start of the dose.


All initial EtOH SCs were 0. EtOH SCs were higher after IV administration. Mean peak SC was 103.6 mg/dL after IV administration and 71.3 mg/dL after PO administration (p<0.0001). Mean time to peak was 46.5 minutes after IV administration and 103.5 minutes after PO administration (p<0.0001). Total area under the curve was 17,440 min-mg/dL after IV administration and 13,875 min-mg/dL after PO administration (p<0.003). The order of treatments did not affect results (p>0.1).


Significant differences exist between the SCs of EtOH as well as the times to peak SC after PO and IV administrations.

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