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Side Effects & Adverse Reactions
Liver injury resulting in liver failure, liver transplantation, or death, has been reported with propylthiouracil therapy in adult and pediatric patients. No cases of liver failure have been reported with the use of methimazole in pediatric patients. For this reason, propylthiouracil is not recommended for pediatric patients except when methimazole is not well-tolerated and surgery or radioactive iodine therapy are not appropriate therapies.
There are cases of liver injury, including liver failure and death, in women treated with propylthiouracil during pregnancy. Two reports of in utero exposure with liver failure and death of a newborn have been reported. The use of an alternative antithyroid medication (e.g., methimazole) may be advisable following the first trimester of pregnancy (see Precautions, Pregnancy).
Biochemical monitoring of liver function (bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase) and hepatocellular integrity (ALT, AST) is not expected to attenuate the risk of severe liver injury due to its rapid and unpredictable onset. Patients should be informed of the risk of liver failure. Patients should be instructed to report any symptoms of hepatic dysfunction (anorexia, pruritus, right upper quadrant pain, etc.), particularly in the first six months of therapy. When these symptoms occur, propylthiouracil should be discontinued immediately and liver function tests and ALT and AST levels obtained.
Agranulocytosis occurs in approximately 0.2% to 0.5% of patients and is a potentially life-threatening side effect of propylthiouracil therapy. Agranulocytosis typically occurs within the first 3 months of therapy. Patients should be instructed to immediately report any symptoms suggestive of agranulocytosis, such as fever or sore throat. Leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and aplastic anemia (pancytopenia) may also occur. Propylthiouracil should be discontinued if agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia (pancytopenia), ANCA-positive vasculitis, hepatitis, interstitial pneumonitis, fever, or exfoliative dermatitis is suspected, and the patient's bone marrow indices should be obtained.
Propylthiouracil can cause hypothyroidism necessitating routine monitoring of TSH and free T4 levels with adjustments in dosing to maintain a euthyroid state. Because the drug readily crosses placental membranes, propylthiouracil can cause fetal goiter and cretinism when administered to a pregnant woman (see Precautions, Pregnancy).
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Propylthiouracil is indicated:• in patients with Graves’ disease with hyperthyroidism or toxic multinodular goiter who are intolerant of methimazole and for whom surgery or radioactive iodine therapy is not an appropriate treatment option • to ameliorate symptoms of hyperthyroidism in preparation for thyroidectomy or radioactive iodine therapy in patients who are intolerant of methimazole
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WARNING: Severe liver injury and acute liver failure, in some cases fatal, have been reported in patients treated with propylthiouracil. These reports of hepatic reactions include cases requiring liver transplantation in adult and pediatric patients.
Propylthiouracil should be reserved for patients who can not tolerate methimazole and in whom radioactive iodine therapy or surgery are not appropriate treatments for the management of hyperthyroidism.
Because of the risk of fetal abnormalities associated with methimazole, propylthiouracil may be the treatment of choice when an antithyroid drug is indicated during or just prior to the first trimester of pregnancy (see Warnings and Precautions).
Propylthiouracil is one of the thiocarbamide compounds. It is a white, crystalline substance that has a bitter taste and is very slightly soluble in water. Propylthiouracil is an antithyroid drug administered orally. The structural formula is:
Each tablet contains propylthiouracil 50 mg and the following inactive ingredients: corn starch, docusate sodium, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, modified food starch, sodium benzoate, and sodium starch glycolate.
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