[Pharmacotherapy of hyperthyreosis--adverse drug reactions]

Perger, Ludwig; Bürgi, Ulrich; Fattinger, Karin (2011). [Pharmacotherapy of hyperthyreosis--adverse drug reactions]. Therapeutische Umschau, 68(6), pp. 303-8. Bern: Huber 10.1024/0040-5930/a000169

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The antithyroid drugs mainly include thioimidazole (carbimazole, methimazole=thiamazole) and propylthiouracil. After absorption, carbimazole is rapidly metabolized to methimazole and thus switching between these two drugs should not be considered in case of side effects. Furthermore, in case of side effects, sometimes even cross reactions between thioimidazoles and propylthiouracil occur. Common and typical adverse reactions of antithyroid drugs include dose dependent hypothyroidism and thus thyroid function should be repeatedly checked while the patient is on antithyroid drugs. Furthermore, pruritus and rash may develop. In this case, one might try to switch from thioimidazoles to propylthiouracil or vice versa. Antithyroid drugs may cause mild dose dependent neutropenia or severe allergy-mediated agranulocytosis, which typically occurs during the first three months of treatment, has an incidence of 3 per 10,000 patients and cross reactivity between thioimidazoles to propylthiouracil may occur. Rarely, antithyroid drugs can cause aplastic anemia. Mainly propylthiouracil, but sometimes also methimazole may lead to an asymptomatic transient increase in liver enzymes or to severe, even lethal liver injury of cholestatic or hepatocellular pattern. Since propylthiouracil associated liver injury was observed increasingly among children and adolescent, it has been suggested to prefer thioimidazoles for these patients. Because of these potential serious adverse effects, physicians should advise patients to immediately seek medical help if they get a fever or sore throat or malaise, abdominal complaints or jaundice, respectively. Furthermore, arthralgias may develop in 1-5% of patients under both antithyroid drugs. Since arthralgias may be the first symptom of more serious immunologic side effects, it is recommended to stop the antithyroid drug in this case. Drug induced polyarthritis mainly develops during the first month of therapy, whereas ANCA-positive vasculitis is generally observed only after long term exposure to propylthiouracil or very rarely with the thioimidazoles. The teratogenic risk of the thioimidazoles is somewhat higher (Aplasia cutis congenita), that is why one generally recommends preferring propylthiouracil during pregnancy. During breast feeding both, thioimidazoles or propylthiouracil, may be administered. Nowadays, perchlorate is only used short term in case of latent hyperthyroidism before administering iodine-containing contrast agents. Therefore, the known side effects, which usually are only observed after long term treatment, are not an issue any more.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Further Contribution)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of General Internal Medicine (DAIM) > Clinic of General Internal Medicine > Centre of Competence for General Internal Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Fattinger, Karin








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Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:23

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2013 13:29

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https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/8021 (FactScience: 213435)

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