Childhood paracetamol (acetaminophen) ingestion with subsequent risk of hepatotoxicity is a major medical problem. The aim of this study was to investigate the risk of high-dose ingestion of orodispersible, fast-disintegrating paracetamol tablets in children.
A retrospective single-center case study of all accidental selfadministrations of solid or orodispersible 500-mg paracetamol tablets occurring in children ≤ 6 years, reported to the Swiss Toxicological Information Centre between June 2003 and August 2009.
We found 187 cases with ingestion of solid 500-mg paracetamol tablets and 16 cases with ingestion of orodispersible 500-mg tablets. The mean ingested dose in the orodispersible-tablet group was 59% higher than in the solid-tablet group (p = 0.085). Administration of activated charcoal and/or N-acetylcysteine because of ingestion of a potentially hepatotoxic paracetamol dose ( ≥ 150 mg/kg body weight) was recommended in 32 patients (17.1%) in the solid-tablet group and in five (31%) in the orodispersible-tablet group.
Orodispersible paracetamol formulations may represent an important risk factor for severe paracetamol poisoning in children. Over-the-counter availability may contribute to increasing the use of this galenic formulation and eventually the number of poisonings in children.