Acceleration of the body clearance of phenobarbital by oral activated charcoal

The New England Journal of Medicine
M J BergG F Johnson


We investigated the effect of multiple oral doses of activated charcoal on the pharmacokinetics of intravenously administered phenobarbital in a randomized crossover trial. Six healthy men volunteered to take 200 mg of phenobarbital sodium per 70 kg of body weight intravenously on two separate occasions. On one occasion, each subject received oral activated charcoal (180 g) in divided doses over three days after the infusion of phenobarbital. Serum levels of phenobarbital were measured in all subjects up to 96 hours after the infusion, and urinary excretion of phenobarbital was measured in two subjects 24 to 96 hours after the infusion. A pharmacokinetic analysis showed that the charcoal decreased the serum half-life of phenobarbital form 110 +/- 8 to 45 +/- 6 hours (S.E.M.) (P less than 0.01), increased the total body clearance of phenobarbital from 4.4 +/- 0.2 to 12.0 +/- 1.6 ml per kilogram per hour (P less than 0.01), and increased the nonrenal clearance from 52 to 80 per cent of the total body clearance. We conclude that oral administration of activated charcoal enhances the nonrenal clearance of phenobarbital.


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