Population-based drug-induced agranulocytosis

Luisa Ibáñez, Xavier Vidal, Elena Ballarín, Joan Ramon Laporte

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149 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Since the publication of a major international case-control study on the risk of agranulocytosis associated with the use of medicines in the 1980s, many new drugs have been introduced in therapeutics. Methods: Seventeen units of hematology contribute to the case-control surveillance of agranulocytosis and aplastic anemia in Barcelona, Spain. After a follow-up of 78.73 million person-years, 177 community cases of agranulocytosis were compared with 586 sex-, age, and hospital-matched control subjects with regard to previous use of medicines. Results: The annual incidence of community-acquired agranulocytosis was 3.46:1 million, and it increased with age. The fatality rate was 7.0%, and the mortality rate was 0.24:1 million. The drug most strongly associated with a risk of agranulocytosis was ticlopidine hydrochloride with an odds ratio (OR) of 103.23 (95% confidence interval [CI], 12.73-837.44), followed by calcium dobesilate (OR, 77.84 [95% CI, 4.50-1346.2O]), antithyroid drugs (OR, 52.75 [95% CI, 5.82-478.03]), dipyrone (metamizole sodium and metamizole magnesium) (OR, 25.76 [95% CI, 8.39-179.12]), and spironolactone (OR, 19.97 [95% CI, 2.27-175.89]). Other drugs associated with a significant risk were pyrithyldione, cinepazide, aprindine hydrochloride, carbamazepine, sulfonamides, phenytoin and phenytoin sodium, β-lactam antibiotics, erythromycin stearate and erythromycin ethylsuccinate, and diclofenac sodium. Individual attributable incidences for all these drugs, which collectively accounted for 68.6% of cases, were less than 1:1 million per year. Conclusions: Agranulocytosis is rare but serious. A few drugs account for two thirds of the cases. Our results also provide reassurance regarding the risk associated with a number of newly marketed drugs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-874
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2005


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