Age-related changes in the hepatic pharmacology and toxicology of paracetamol.
Optimal pharmacotherapy is determined when the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the drug are understood. However, the age-related changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, as well as the increased interindividual variation mean optimal dose selection are a challenge for prescribing in older adults. Poor understanding of how hepatic clearance and toxicity are different with age results in suboptimal dose selection, poor efficacy, and/or increased toxicity. Of particular concern is the analgesic paracetamol which has been in use for more than 50 years and is consumed by a large proportion of older adults. Paracetamol is considered to be a relatively safe drug; however, caution must be taken because of its potential for toxicity. Paracetamol-induced liver injury from accidental overdose accounts for up to 55% of cases in older adults. Better understanding of how age affects the hepatic clearance and toxicity of drugs will contribute to evidence-based prescribing for older people, leading to fewer adverse drug reactions without loss of benefit.