Improvement in Survival after Paraquat Ingestion Following Introduction of a New Formulation in Sri Lanka

MF Wilks, R Fernando, PL Ariyananda, M Eddleston, DJ Berry, JA Tomenson, NA Buckley, S Jayamanne, DJ Gunnell, A Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Pesticide ingestion is a common method of self-harm in the rural developing world. In an attempt to reduce the high case fatality seen with the herbicide paraquat, a novel formulation (INTEON) has been developed containing an increased emetic concentration, a purgative, and an alginate that forms a gel under the acid conditions of the stomach, potentially slowing the absorption of paraquat and giving the emetic more time to be effective. We compared the outcome of paraquat self-poisoning with the standard formulation against the new INTEON formulation following its introduction into Sri Lanka. Methods and Findings. Clinical data were prospectively collected on 586 patients with paraquat ingestion presenting to nine large hospitals across Sri Lanka with survival to 3 mo as the primary outcome. The identity of the formulation ingested after October 2004 was confirmed by assay of blood or urine samples for a marker compound present in INTEON. The proportion of known survivors increased from 76/297 with the standard formulation to 103/289 with INTEON ingestion, and estimated 3-mo survival improved from 27.1% to 36.7% (difference 9.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.0%–17.1%; p = 0.002, log rank test). Cox proportional hazards regression analyses showed an approximately 2-fold reduction in toxicity for INTEON compared to standard formulation. A higher proportion of patients ingesting INTEON vomited within 15 min (38% with the original formulation to 55% with INTEON, p <0.001). Median survival time increased from 2.3 d (95% CI 1.2–3.4 d) with the standard formulation to 6.9 d (95% CI 3.3–10.7 d) with INTEON ingestion (p = 0.002, log rank test); however, in patients who did not survive there was a comparatively smaller increase in median time to death from 0.9 d (interquartile range [IQR] 0.5–3.4) to 1.5 d (IQR 0.5–5.5); p = 0.02. Conclusions. The survey has shown that INTEON technology significantly reduces the mortality of patients following paraquat ingestion and increases survival time, most likely by reducing absorption.
Translated title of the contributionImprovement in Survival after Paraquat Ingestion Following Introduction of a New Formulation in Sri Lanka
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250 - 259
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS Medicine
Volume5 (2, e49)
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Public Library of Science


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