Clinical Relevance and Cost-Savings of Levocarnitine Versus Ammonul in the Management Of Hyperammonemia in a Cancer Patient: The Impact of a Clinical Pharmacist

Anyanwu, Chukwuma; Ezeudu, Chinonso; Hoa Le; Egwim, Oliver; Le, Hoa
January 2018
P&T: A Peer-Reviewed Journal for Managed Care & Formulary Manage;Jan2018, Vol. 43 Issue 1, p52
Academic Journal
journal article
Background: Hyperammonemia, a relatively uncommon condition characterized by elevated ammonia levels in the blood, presents with varied physiological etiologies that may send patients to the intensive care unit (ICU) with encephalopathy. An immediate decrease in ammonia levels is necessary to avert neurological damage. However, due to the multifaceted nature of hyperammonemia, a definite determination of etiology is not always possible.Objective: This case report examines the clinical and economic impact of a pharmacist in managing acute hyperammonemia of unknown etiology in a 62-year-old Hispanic man who had recently been diagnosed with metastatic medullary thyroid cancer and associated hypercalcemia. The patient was treated with levocarnitine after the failure of several other treatments.Results: Levocarnitine therapy controlled the patient's ammonia levels, which had progressively reached extremely high levels. His mental status, which had deteriorated severely, returned to baseline.Conclusion: This case illustrates the importance of having a clinical pharmacist in the ICU. The pharmacist's expertise and knowledge helped avert adverse clinical consequences and promoted considerable cost-savings. This case also shows that levocarnitine may be an effective treatment for certain cases of hyperammonia-induced encephalopathy with unknown etiology.


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