Research Article

Late treatment of paracetamol poisoning with mercaptamine.

Br Med J 1978; 1 doi: (Published 11 February 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;1:331
  1. J M Smith,
  2. W O Roberts,
  3. S M Hall,
  4. T A White,
  5. A A Gilbertson


    Forty patients who had taken overdoses of paracetamol were treated with mercaptamine. Twenty-three patients given mercaptamine within 10 hours of poisoning had normal liver function tests at follow-up, and one could not be traced. In 16 patients mecraptamine was begun more than 10 hours after ingestion of paracetamol ("late" mercaptamine). Eight of these patients developed severe liver damage, which in six was moderate or severe before mercaptamine administration. Acute renal failure occurred in two patients; in one other renal function was temporarily severely impaired. At follow-up two patients were not available, and one admitted moribund had died soon after admission. The remaining 13 all had normal liver function tests. It is concluded that late mercaptamine is not dangerous and may prevent further liver damage.