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Respiratory tract secretions in the dying patient: a comparison between glycopyrronium and hyoscine hydrobromide

Publication year
Hugel, H.; Ellershaw, J.; Gambles, M.

The evidence for the management of respiratory tract secretions (RTS) in dying patients with antimuscarinic drugs remains inconclusive. This study investigated the effectiveness of glycopyrronium versus hyoscine hydrobromide in controlling RTS using the Liverpool Care of the Dying Pathway (LCP) in 72 patients matched for age, diagnosis, and gender who died on a 30-bed specialist palliative care unit. All patients in the glycoypyrronium group had some response to glycopyrronium, whereas 22% of patients in the hyoscine group had no response to hyoscine hydrobromide. There was a significant difference in overall response between the two groups (p < 0.01). Twenty-eight percent of patients in the glycopyrronium and 42% of patients in the hyoscine group died with RTS present. There was no statistically significant difference in the levels of agitation following administration of either drug. This study provides further evidence that the LCP can be a useful tool in the evaluation of new drugs for symptom control in dying patients and suggests that glycopyrronium may be at least as effective in controlling RTS in dying patients as hyoscine hydrobromide.

Research abstracts