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Int J Cardiol. 1995 Jan 27;48(1):27-30.

Activated charcoal increases digoxin elimination in patients.

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Clinical Pharmacology Service, Hospital La Paz, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain.


Digoxin continues to be an important cause of drug toxicity. On the basis of a healthy volunteer study, activated charcoal has been proposed as a treatment for digoxin chronic intoxication. In order to evaluate the effect of activated charcoal on digoxin elimination in intoxicated patients during routine practice, we reviewed all Serum Digoxin Level Requests for adult in-patients from 1991 to 1993, with digoxin levels > 2.5 ng/ml. Of a total of 39 cases, 23 had been treated with activated charcoal while 16 had not. Digoxin elimination half-life during activated charcoal therapy was 36 h (S.D. 14 h; 95% C.I. 30-42 h) while in the non-treated group it was 68 h (S.D. 19 h, 95% C.I. 57-78). Calculated total body clearance of digoxin was 55 ml/min (S.D. 17 ml/min; 95% C.I. 45-64 ml/min) for the non-treated group versus 98 ml/min (S.D. 34 ml/min; 95% C.I. 83-113 ml/min) for the group receiving charcoal, representing an 78% increase in digoxin elimination.

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