Drug-associated Guillain-Barré syndrome: a literature review

Ann Pharmacother. 1996 Feb;30(2):173-80. doi: 10.1177/106002809603000212.


Objective: To present an overview of reported drug-associated Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and current management of the disease.

Data sources: Case reports and reviews of drug-associated GBS published in the English-language literature from 1982 through 1994 were retrieved from MEDLINE. An additional search was done through the Iowa Drug Information System for the same period. This search yielded incidents that occurred as early as 1976. The key search terms were GBS, polyneuropathy, chemically induced polyradiculoneuropathy, and etiology of GBS. The searches were limited to human subjects.

Data synthesis: Drugs that have been associated with GBS are presented, and although no definite relationships have been established, selected reports attempt to show an increased incidence of GBS after drug therapy. Outcome of medical management of GBS has been variable; however, death occurs in less than 10% of those affected.

Conclusions: GBS and clinically similar states have been reported to occur with a variety of drugs and biologics; however, because of the paucity of available data a well-defined cause and effect relationship has not been established between GBS and any drug. There appears to be no treatment of choice for this disorder. Further comparative studies should be done to determine the therapy with the most consistent outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy / chemically induced*
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy / epidemiology
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy / therapy