Paraquat: The poison potion

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Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine


Paraquat is a commonly used herbicide in India that has lethal consequences even on minimal consumption. The case fatality rate for this poisoning is high and there is dearth of evidence-based recommendation for the treatment of this poison. This review article explores the diagnosis and management of paraquat poisoning with an emphasis on recent advances in treatment. Though immunosuppressants and antioxidants are conventionally used, there is a gap in evidence to prove survival benefit of these treatment regimens. There are also some data showing the use of hemoperfusion (with toxin-specific cartridges) as an early intervention, i.e., within 4 hours of exposure to the poison. The recent drug, Edaravone, has also shown promise in the prevention of renal and hepatic injury in paraquat poisoning. Though it did not reduce pulmonary fibrosis in patients with paraquat poisoning, it delays the generation and development of pulmonary fibrosis. However, there is a need for more clinical and experimental studies to validate its use in paraquat poisoning.

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