European journal of clinical pharmacology

Metamizole-induced agranulocytosis revisited: results from the prospective Berlin Case-Control Surveillance Study.

PMID 25378038


Treatment with metamizole (dipyrone) has steadily increased in Germany over the last decade. The consequences of this increase for metamizole-induced agranulocytosis (MIA) are unclear. The present study addressed this topic using data from the Berlin Case-Control Surveillance Study. Adult patients (≥18 years of age) with acute nonchemotherapy-induced agranulocytosis were identified by active surveillance in all 51 Berlin hospitals between 2000 and 2010. Cases related to metamizole were ascertained applying the drug causality criteria of the World Health Organization. The incidence rate of MIA was calculated and standardised by age and sex based on the German standard population in 2010. Twenty-six MIA cases out of 88 (30 %) patients with validated agranulocytosis were ascertained. The incidence of MIA was 0.96 (95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.95-0.97) cases per million per year. The median age of MIA cases was 50 years (quartile (Q)1 31 years; Q3 68 years) and 19 (73 %) of them were women. In 17 (65 %) cases, neutrophil granulocytes dropped below the value of 0.1 × 10(9) cells/L with three patients suffering from sepsis. Headache and postoperative pain were the most frequent indications for metamizole in outpatients (n = 16) and inpatients (n = 10), respectively. The median treatment duration was 6 days (Q1 4 days; Q3 19 days). MIA persists as a severe condition in current pharmacotherapy. The continuous increase of metamizole applications should be critically assessed, especially in regard to indications in the outpatient setting and with respect to metamizole treatment duration.