Propylthiouracil (PTU) Hepatoxicity in Children and Recommendations for Discontinuation of Use

Int J Pediatr Endocrinol. 2009:2009:132041. doi: 10.1155/2009/132041. Epub 2009 Apr 21.


Propylthiouracil (PTU) was introduced for clinical use in July 1947 for Graves' disease (GD) treatment. Over the 60 years that this medication has been used, reports of PTU-related liver failure and death have accumulated. On October 28, 2008, an expert panel evaluated PTU drug safety in children at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) It is estimated that about 4000 pediatric patients per year with GD are being treated with antithyroid drugs (ATDs) in the United States, and up to 30% of pediatric patients with GD are being treated with PTU. The risk of severe PTU-induced liver failure is estimated as 1 in 2000-4000 children. The number of children developing reversible PTU-induced liver injury is estimated to be at least 1 in 200. Routine biochemical surveillance of liver function and hepatocellular integrity is not useful in identifying children who will develop liver failure. Children appear to be at higher risk for PTU-induced liver injury than adults. PTU should not be used as first line therapy for the treatment of GD in children. Current PTU use in children taking this medication should be stopped in favor of alternate therapies.