A drug that makes a difference: ondansetron

Ondansetron (Zofran ®) use has become more common and is making a difference (JPGN 2012; 54: 381-86).  This drug has been a terrific advance for so many individuals with disorders that provoke vomiting and nausea.  Not only does it have a high degree of effectiveness, but side effects are also quite uncommon.

The cited study documents ondansetron’s increasing use in Toronto.  This retrospective cohort study of children younger than 18 years with gastroenteritis examined emergency room visits between 2003 and 2008.  20% of 22,125 charts were selected randomly for review (n=3508 patients in final analysis).  During the study period, intravenous rehydration decreased from 27% to 13% and ondansetron use increased from 1% to 18%.  Associated with ondansetron use, mean length of stay decreased from 8.6 to 5.9 hours.  Also, the week following the index visit, there was a reduction in return visits from 18% to 13% as well as decreased need for intravenous rehydration (7% to 4%).

The authors state that analysis elsewhere has indicated that appropriate usage of ondansetron for this indication could result in savings of more than $65 million each year in the U.S.  The main limitation of this study is that other factors could have changed during the study period and resulted in some of these improvements; though, this institution did not have any major changes which could be identified.

Of course, ondansetron is used in many other clinical settings besides the emergency room.  Though the drug is expensive, it is worth the cost.

Additional references:

  • -Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2008; 162: 858-65.  Use of antiemetic agents in AGE.
  • -Ann Emerg Med 2008; 52: 22e6-9e6.  Use of oral ondansetron in children with AGE who failed oral rehydration.
  • -NEJM 2006; 354: 1698. Use of zofran did not decrease hospitalization but did decrease need for IV fluids and decreased vomiting.

1 thought on “A drug that makes a difference: ondansetron

  1. Pingback: Ondansetron for Gastroenteritis | gutsandgrowth

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