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Clinical Trial
. 2001;39(6):601-5.
doi: 10.1081/clt-100108492.

How Long After Drug Ingestion Is Activated Charcoal Still Effective?

Clinical Trial

How Long After Drug Ingestion Is Activated Charcoal Still Effective?

R Green et al. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. .


Objective: The recent American Academy of Clinical Toxicology/European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists position statement on activated charcoal stated "there are insufficient data to support or exclude its use after 1 hour of ingestion.'' The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of activated charcoal administered 1, 2, and 3 hours after drug ingestion.

Methods: This was a human volunteer, randomized crossover study. Ten volunteers ingested 4 g of acetaminophen on four occasions at least 1 week apart. One ingestion served as a control and the other three as experimental ingestions with charcoal being administered at 1, 2, and 3 hours after acetaminophen dosing. Eight blood specimens were obtained over the initial 8 hours for serum acetaminophen concentrations that were used for calculation of routine pharmacokinetic parameters. Repeated measures of ANOVA and Tukey's HSD test were used for statistical analysis.

Results: Pharmacokinetic parameters for acetaminophen in our volunteers were consistent with literature values. The mean area under the curve (AUC+/-SD) for the control and the 1-, 2-, and 3-hour groups were 221 +/- 54, 154 +/- 71, 206 +/- 67 and 204 +/- 58 mg/L/h, respectively. The 1-hour group was the only one differing from control (p < 0.01). The decrease of bioavailability at 1 hour was 30.3%, which is similar to previous studies.

Conclusion: Our data do not support the administration of activated charcoal as a gastrointestinal decontamination strategy beyond 1 hour after drug overdose.

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