Name: Acetylcysteine


Excipients in commercially available drug preparations may have clinically important effects in some individuals; consult specific product labeling for details.

Please refer to the ASHP Drug Shortages Resource Center for information on shortages of one or more of these preparations.

Acetylcysteine Sodium


Dosage Forms


Brand Names


Oral Inhalation, Intratracheal Instillation, and Oral


100 mg (of acetylcysteine) per mL (10%)

Acetylcysteine Sodium Solution

Abbott, American Regent, Bedford, Dey, Mayne, Roxane



200 mg (of acetylcysteine) per mL (20%)

Acetylcysteine Sodium Solution

Abbott, American Regent, Bedford, Dey, Mayne, Roxane





Dosage Forms


Brand Names



For injection concentrate, for IV infusion

200 mg/mL



Uses For acetylcysteine

Acetylcysteine is used to help prevent or lessen liver damage caused by an overdose of acetaminophen.

acetylcysteine is available only with your doctor's prescription.

acetylcysteine Side Effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

Incidence not known
  • Difficulty with breathing or swallowing
  • fever
  • hives or itching
  • nausea
  • rash with or without a fever
  • reddening of the skin, especially around the ears
  • severe or ongoing vomiting
  • swelling of the eyes, face, or inside of the nose
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
  • Mild nausea
  • stomach upset
  • vomiting

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Brand Names U.S.

  • Acetadote
  • Cetylev

Pharmacologic Category

  • Antidote
  • Mucolytic Agent

Onset of Action

Inhalation: 5 to 10 minutes

Time to Peak

Plasma: Oral solution: 1 to 2 hours; Effervescent tablets: 1 to 3.5 hours (median: 2 hours)


Hypersensitivity to acetylcysteine or any component of the formulation.

Effervescent tablet (Cetylev): There are no contraindications listed in the manufacturer's labeling.

Dosing Renal Impairment

Oral, IV: There are no dosage adjustments provided in the manufacturer's labeling.

Adverse Reactions



Immunologic: Autoimmune disease (14% to 18%)

Miscellaneous: Anaphylactoid reaction (1% to 18%)

1% to 10%:

Cardiovascular: Flushing (1% to 3%), tachycardia (1% to 4%), edema (1% to 2%)

Dermatologic: Urticaria (≤21%), rash (2% to ≤21%), pruritus (1% to ≤21%)

Gastrointestinal: Vomiting (2% to 10%), nausea (1% to 6%)

Respiratory: Pharyngitis (≤1%), rhinorrhea (≤1%), rhonchi (≤1%), throat tightness (≤1%)

<1% (Limited to important or life-threatening): Anaphylaxis, angioedema, bronchospasm, chest tightness, cough, dizziness (Sandilands 2008), dyspnea (Sandilands 2008), hypotension, respiratory distress, stridor, wheezing

Oral: Frequency not defined.

Cardiovascular: Chest tightness, hypotension (Bebarta 2010; Sandilands 2008)

Dermatologic: Rash (with or without fever), urticaria

Gastrointestinal: Gastrointestinal symptoms, nausea, vomiting

Hypersensitivity: Hypersensitivity reaction

Respiratory: Bronchospasm, bronchitis

<1% (Limited to important or life-threatening): Angioedema (Bebarta 2010), tachycardia (Bebarta 2010)

Acetylcysteine Interactions

This is not a complete list of Acetylcysteinedrug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.