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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2010 Jul;66(7):713-9. doi: 10.1007/s00228-010-0806-5. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Paracetamol for intravenous use in medium--and intensive care patients: pharmacokinetics and tolerance.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Alysis Zorggroep, location Rijnstate Hospital, Wagnerlaan 55, 6815 AD, Arnhem, The Netherlands.



We studied the pharmacokinetics of paracetamol and determine the incidence of hypotension after intravenous administration in medium- (MCU) and intensive care (ICU) patients.


All patients on the ICU/MCU starting with paracetamol i.v. were included, yielding 38 patients. Blood samples were collected at predetermined time points to determine paracetamol serum concentration. The number of patients with a clinically relevant reduction in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and the number of patients that needed intervention to regain an acceptable blood pressure level were assessed.


Overall, pharmacokinetic data were roughly comparable with earlier publications, but differences were noted in the subgroup ICU patients. Also, there was a trend to a larger peak serum concentration (p = 0.052) and a significantly smaller volume of distribution (p = 0.033) in MCU patients compared with ICU patients. Twenty-two percent (22%) and 33% of patients had a clinically relevant reduction in systolic blood pressure (SBP) 15 and 30 min after start of paracetamol infusion, respectively. In six patients (16%), an intervention was needed to correct blood pressure. Overall, SBP was significantly reduced at T = 15 min and 30 min postinfusion (p < 0.003 at both time points) when compared with SBP at the start of paracetamol infusion.


Further research on differences in paracetamol pharmacokinetics between ICU and MCU patients is warranted, as these differences might result in differences in efficacy. Furthermore, administration of paracetamol i.v. as potential cause of hypotension in the critically ill patient must not be overlooked.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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