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J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1984 Jul;22(1):21-30.

Evaluation of activated charcoal-sodium sulfate combination for inhibition of acetaminophen absorption and repletion of inorganic sulfate.


Activated charcoal is an effective inhibitor of acetaminophen absorption while sodium sulfate can prevent the depletion of endogenous inorganic sulfate associated with the formation of acetaminophen sulfate. Administration of activated charcoal plus sodium sulfate soon after acetaminophen overdose may reduce acetaminophen absorption and facilitate the elimination of absorbed acetaminophen by providing sufficient sulfate ion for rapid sulfation of the drug. This investigation was designed to determine if sodium sulfate modifies the inhibitory effect of activated charcoal on acetaminophen absorption or if activated charcoal affects the absorption of sodium sulfate. Eight normal adults received, on separate occasions, 1 g acetaminophen, 1 g acetaminophen and 18 g sodium sulfate (decahydrate), 1 g acetaminophen with 10 g activated charcoal and 1 g acetaminophen, with 10 g activated charcoal and 18 g sodium sulfate, in random order. Urine was collected for 48 hours and assayed for acetaminophen and its major metabolites and for inorganic sulfate. The results confirm that activated charcoal can reduce acetaminophen absorption and show that oral administration of activated charcoal with sodium sulfate does not alter the inhibitory effect of activated charcoal on acetaminophen absorption or the bioavailability of the sulfate. A combination of activated charcoal and sodium sulfate may therefore be useful for the initial management of acetaminophen overdose.

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