Send to

Choose Destination
Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1989;37(5):501-6.

The disposition and kinetics of intravenous N-acetylcysteine in patients with paracetamol overdosage.

Author information

Regional Poisoning Treatment Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland.


Seventeen patients received standard treatment with intravenous N-acetylcysteine for 18 episodes of severe poisoning with paracetamol (acetaminophen). The dose of N-acetylcysteine was 150 mg/kg given in 15 min followed by 50 mg/kg in 4 h and 100 mg/kg over the next 16 h. Liver damage was absent or mild on 13 occasions (ALT greater than 500 mu/l) and severe on 5 (ALT less than 1000 mu/l). Total plasma N-acetylcysteine was estimated by HPLC. The mean maximum plasma concentration after the initial loading dose was 554 mg/l. Concentrations then fell rapidly and after 12 h a mean steady-state level of about 35 mg/l was maintained. When the infusion was discontinued N-acetylcysteine disappeared with a half-life of 5.7 h. The mean steady-state volume of distribution, AUC, mean residence time and total clearance were 536 ml/kg, 1748 mg.h.l-1, 2.91 h and 3.18 These values are generally consistent with those previously reported with much smaller doses and the disposition of N-acetylcysteine does not appear to be dose-dependent. The elimination of N-acetylcysteine was not impaired in the patients with severe liver damage, and the pharmacokinetic variables and plasma concentrations were similar in patients with and without hepatotoxicity. The dosage schedule for intravenous N-acetylcysteine should probably be modified since adverse reactions invariably occur early when plasma concentrations are at their highest, and liver damage was prevented just as effectively at the lowest as at the highest Cmax. High initial concentrations of N-acetylcysteine can be avoided with simple alternative regimens based on the kinetic data of this study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center