It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when acetylcysteine is administered to a nursing woman.
Adverse effects have included stomatitis, nausea, vomiting, fever, rhinorrhea, drowsiness, clamminess, chest tightness and bronchoconstriction. Clinically overt acetylcysteine induced bronchospasm occurs infrequently and unpredictably even in patients with asthmatic bronchitis or bronchitis complicating bronchial asthma.
Acquired sensitization to acetylcysteine has been reported rarely. Reports of sensitization in patients have not been confirmed by patch testing. Sensitization has been confirmed in several inhalation therapists who reported a history of dermal eruptions after frequent and extended exposure to acetylcysteine.
Reports of irritation to the tracheal and bronchial tracts have been received and although hemoptysis has occurred in patients receiving acetylcysteine such findings are not uncommon in patients with bronchopulmonary disease and a causal relationship has not been established.
Acetylcysteine Solution, USP is available in rubber stoppered glass vials containing 10 mL or 30 mL. The 20% solution may be diluted to a lesser concentration with either Sodium Chloride Injection, Sodium Chloride for Inhalation, Sterile Water for Injection, or Sterile Water for Inhalation. The 10% solution may be used undiluted.
Acetylcysteine does not contain an antimicrobial agent, and care must be taken to minimize contamination of the sterile solution. If only a portion of the solution in a vial is used, store the remainder in a refrigerator and use for inhalation only within 96 hours.
Nebulization — Face Mask, Mouthpiece, Tracheostomy: When nebulized into a face mask, mouthpiece, or tracheostomy, 1 to 10 mL of the 20% solution or 2 to 20 mL of the 10% solution may be given every 2 to 6 hours; the recommended dose for most patients is 3 to 5 mL of the 20% solution or 6 to 10 mL of the 10% solution three to four times a day.
Nebulization — Tent, Croupette: In special circumstances it may be necessary to nebulize into a tent or Croupette, and this method of use must be individualized to take into account the available equipment and the patient’s particular needs. This form of administration requires very large volumes of the solution, occasionally as much as 300 mL during a single treatment period.
If a tent or Croupette must be used, the recommended dose is the volume of acetylcysteine (using 10 or 20%) that will maintain a very heavy mist in the tent or Croupette for the desired period. Administration for intermittent or continuous prolonged periods, including overnight, may be desirable.
Direct Instillation: When used by direct instillation, 1 to 2 mL of a 10% to 20% solution may be given as often as every hour.
When used for the routine nursing care of patients with tracheostomy, 1 to 2 mL of a 10% to 20% solution may be given every 1 to 4 hours by instillation into the tracheostomy.
Acetylcysteine may be introduced directly into a particular segment of the bronchopulmonary tree by inserting (under local anesthesia and direct vision) a small plastic catheter into the trachea. Two to 5 mL of the 20% solution may then be instilled by means of a syringe connected to the catheter.
Acetylcysteine may also be given through a percutaneous intratracheal catheter. One to 2 mL of the 20% or 2 to 4 mL of the 10% solution every 1 to 4 hours may then be given by a syringe attached to the catheter.
Diagnostic Bronchograms: For diagnostic bronchial studies, 2 or 3 administrations of 1 to 2 mL of the 20% solution or 2 to 4 mL of the 10% solution should be given by nebulization or by instillation intratracheally, prior to the procedure.
Materials: Acetylcysteine solution may be administered using conventional nebulizers made of plastic or glass. Certain materials used in nebulization equipment react with acetylcysteine. The most reactive of these are certain metals (notably iron and copper) and rubber. Where materials may come into contact with acetylcysteine solution, parts made of the following acceptable materials should be used: glass, plastic, aluminum, anodized aluminum, chromed metal, tantalum, sterling silver, or stainless steel. Silver may become tarnished after exposure, but this is not harmful to the drug action or to the patient.
Nebulizing Gases: Compressed tank gas (air) or an air compressor should be used to provide pressure for nebulizing the solution. Oxygen may also be used but should be used with usual precautions in patients with severe respiratory disease and CO2 retention.
Apparatus: Acetylcysteine solution is usually administered as fine nebulae and the nebulizer used should be capable of providing optimal quantities of a suitable range of particle sizes.
Commercially available nebulizers will produce nebulae of acetylcysteine satisfactory for retention in the respiratory tract. Most of the nebulizers tested will supply a high proportion of the drug solution as particles of less than 10 microns in diameter. Mitchell2 has shown that particles less than 10 microns should be retained in the respiratory tract satisfactorily.
Various intermittent positive pressure breathing devices nebulized acetylcysteine with a satisfactory efficiency including: No:40 Da Vilbiss (The Da Vilbiss Co., Somerset, PA) and the Bennett Twin-Jet Nebulizer (Puritan Bennett Corp., Oak at 13th, Kansas City, MO).
The nebulized solution may be inhaled directly from the nebulizer. Nebulizers may also be attached to plastic face masks or plastic mouthpieces. Suitable nebulizers may also be fitted for use with the various intermittent positive pressure breathing (IPPB) machines. The nebulizing equipment should be cleaned immediately after use because the residues may clog the smaller orifices or corrode metal parts.
Hand bulbs are not recommended for routine use for nebulizing acetylcysteine because their output is generally too small. Also, some hand-operated nebulizers deliver particles that are larger than optimum for inhalation therapy.
Acetylcysteine solution should not be placed directly into the chamber of a heated (hot pot) nebulizer. A heated nebulizer may be part of the nebulization assembly to provide a warm saturated atmosphere if the acetylcysteine aerosol is introduced by means of a separate unheated nebulizer. Usual precautions for administration of warm saturated nebulae should be observed.
The nebulized solution may be breathed directly from the nebulizer. Nebulizers may also be attached to plastic face masks, plastic face tents, plastic mouthpieces, conventional plastic oxygen tents, or head tents. Suitable nebulizers may also be fitted for use with the various intermittent positive pressure breathing (IPPB) machines.
The nebulizing equipment should be cleaned immediately after use, otherwise the residues may occlude the fine orifices or corrode metal parts.
Prolonged Nebulization: When three-fourths of the initial volume of acetylcysteine solution has been nebulized, a quantity of Sterile Water for Injection, USP (approximately equal to the volume of solution remaining) should be added to the nebulizer. This obviates any concentration of the agent in the residual solvent remaining after prolonged nebulization.
Compatibility: The physical and chemical compatibility of acetylcysteine solutions with certain other drugs that might be concomitantly administered by nebulization, direct instillation, or topical application, has been studied.
Acetylcysteine should not be mixed with certain antibiotics. For example, the antibiotics tetracycline hydrochloride, oxytetracycline hydrochloride and erythromycin lactobionate were found to be incompatible when mixed in the same solution. These agents may be administered from separate solutions if administration of these agents is desirable.
The supplying of these data should not be interpreted as a recommendation for combining acetylcysteine with other drugs. The table is not presented as positive assurance that no incompatibility will be present, since these data are based only on short-term compatibility studies done in the Mead Johnson Research Center. Manufacturers may change their formulations, and this could alter compatibilities. These data are intended to serve only as a guide for predicting compounding problems.
If it is deemed advisable to prepare an admixture, it should be administered as soon as possible after preparation. Do not store unused mixtures.
(Antidotal) Acetaminophen is rapidly absorbed from the upper gastrointestinal tract with peak plasma levels occurring between 30 and 60 minutes after therapeutic doses and usually within 4 hours following an overdose. The parent compound, which is nontoxic, is extensively metabolized in the liver to form principally the sulfate and glucuronide conjugates which are also nontoxic and are rapidly excreted in the urine. A small fraction of an ingested dose is metabolized in the liver by the cytochrome P-450 mixed function oxidase enzyme system to form a reactive, potentially toxic, intermediate metabolite which preferentially conjugates with hepatic glutathione to form the nontoxic cysteine and mercapturic acid derivatives which are then excreted by the kidney. Therapeutic doses of acetaminophen do not saturate the glucuronide and sulfate conjugation pathways and do not result in the formation of sufficient reactive metabolite to deplete glutathione stores. However, following ingestion of a large overdose (150 mg/kg or greater) the glucuronide and sulfate conjugation pathways are saturated resulting in a larger fraction of the drug being metabolized via the P-450 pathway. The increased formation of reactive metabolite may deplete the hepatic stores of glutathione with subsequent binding of the metabolite to protein molecules within the hepatocyte resulting in cellular necrosis.
Acetylcysteine has been shown to reduce the extent of liver injury following acetaminophen overdose. Its effectiveness depends on early oral administration, with benefit seen principally in patients treated within 16 hours of the overdose. Acetylcysteine probably protects the liver by maintaining or restoring the glutathione levels, or by acting as an alternate substrate for conjugation with, and thus detoxification of, the reactive metabolite.
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