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Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2014 Nov;52(9):952-7. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2014.969371.

Cardiac conduction disturbance after loperamide abuse.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Upstate Medical University , Syracuse NY , USA.



Prescription opioid abuse is a major public health concern and an ongoing epidemic in the United States. Loperamide is a widely available and inexpensive over-the-counter antidiarrheal with peripheral mu-opioid receptor activity. Online resources discuss the use of loperamide for the amelioration of withdrawal symptoms or recreational abuse. We describe the clinical course of 5 patients abusing loperamide, 3 of whom had life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias.


In this observational case series, patients with cardiac arrhythmias or history of loperamide abuse with cardiac arrhythmias were identified; 5 patients were identified and 4 of the 5 patients were seen directly at the bedside. Clinical profile and outcome of patients is reported.


We report 5 patients with history of loperamide abuse; 3 of the 5 patients had life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. One of the patients experienced a second life-threatening arrhythmia after he resumed loperamide abuse. Loperamide levels were obtained in 4 of the 5 patients and were at least one order of magnitude greater than therapeutic concentrations. Discontinuation of loperamide resulted in complete resolution of cardiac conduction disturbances.


This case series describes several patients with cardiac conduction abnormalities and life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias temporally related to loperamide abuse. With the recent efforts to restrict the diversion of prescription opioids, increasing abuse of loperamide as an opioid substitute may be seen. Toxicologists should be aware of these risks and we urge all clinicians to report such cases to FDA Medwatch(®).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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