New Clinical Trial Shows Intravenous Acetaminophen Reduces Organ Injury Risk in Sepsis Patients

May 21, 2024
The study found that acetaminophen provided the greatest benefit to patients at high risk for organ damage, reducing the need for assisted ventilation and showing a slight decrease in mortality.

A new clinical trial has found that “intravenous acetaminophen reduced sepsis patients’ risk of having organ injury or developing acute respiratory distress syndrome.” NIH has the press release.

Not all patients’ mortality rates were improved, but “the researchers found that acetaminophen gave the greatest benefit to the patients most at risk for organ damage. With the therapy, those patients needed less assisted ventilation and experienced a slight, though statistically insignificant, decrease in mortality.”

Sepsis patients release “’cell-free hemoglobin’” into the blood as a result of red blood cells dying at an abnormally high rate. Lorraine Ware, M.D., who authored this study, had previously undertaken research that showed “acetaminophen, in addition to relieving pain and reducing fevers, had been shown to block the harmful effects of cell-free hemoglobin on the lungs.” Limited research also suggested acetaminophen “might work better for patients with the most severe sepsis – those with higher levels of cell-free hemoglobin.”

For this study, researchers enrolled 447 adults with sepsis across 40 U.S. academic hospitals from October 2021 to April 2023. These patients randomly received either acetaminophen or a placebo every six hours for five days. The researchers found that “intravenous acetaminophen was safe for all the sepsis patients, with no difference in liver injury, low blood pressure, or other adverse events compared to the placebo group. Among secondary outcomes, they also found that organ injury was significantly lower in the acetaminophen group, as was the rate of acute respiratory distress syndrome onset within seven days of hospital admission.”

Researchers also found that “just 8% of patients in the acetaminophen group needed assisted ventilation compared to 23% of patients in the placebo group. And after 28 days, 12% of patients in the acetaminophen group had died, compared to 21% in the placebo group, though this finding was not statistically significant.”

About the Author

Matt MacKenzie | Associate Editor

Matt is Associate Editor for Healthcare Purchasing News.