Succimer

Excess lead in the body can cause severe damage to the body's vital organs and is a serious issue when digested by children; the administration of succimer can help to lessen the negative effects that lead poisoning can cause.

Overview:

The use of succimer can help to minimize the effects of lead poisoning by binding to it and then removing the compound through the kidneys. This drug is essential to remove the lead prior to absorption in any of the body's vital organs.

Children who come into contact with excess amounts of lead, whether it be at home, in the school or another setting should be immediately removed from the contaminated environment while remediation is conducted. If total removal is not possible than other protective measures must be taken for their own safety as well as that of other children and adults. Depending on the severity of the situation, your doctor may opt to hospitalize any lead poisoning victims while succimer is administered.

The administration of succimer must be carried out as directed by your physician and there are several options that are available when administering this drug to children. If they are unable to swallow the capsules than it is also effective to open the pill capsule and sprinkle the medicine on food or add it to fruit juice if those methods are easier for the child.

There is a risk of infection with lead poisoning that can occur when taking succimer. If you experience chills and a fever it is imperative to notify your doctor immediately. This drug is taken to treat a very serious condition and medical supervision is essential for its success. Blood and urine testing will likely be necessary and any direction given by your doctor should be followed very closely.

Side effects can range from mild to severe and again, if you experience chills or fever you must contact your doctor immediately. Other side effects are possible but they will likely go away on their own.

Lead poisoning is a serious condition and taking succimer can help to lessen the negative effects that it has on the body, especially the vital organs. When taking this medication be certain to follow your doctor's guidance and instruction completely.

Condition(s) Treated:

  • Lead Poisoning

Type of Medicine:

  • Systemic Chelating Agent

Side Effects:

There are two types of side effects when using succimer, with chills and fever the most serious. If you experience these symptoms, it is important that you notify your doctor immediately as they can be signs of infection or a more serious issue. The side effects listed below are common and they will typically go away on their own. If you experience any of these and they become worse with time or linger for more than a few days, it is always best practice to notify the prescribing physician.

  • Rashes and other effects of the skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Loose stools

Dosage:

In cases of small children where the level of excess lead is elevated, the attending physician may choose to hospitalize the patient while succimer is administered.

Children under the age of one year will need to be treated on a case by case basis by their doctor, with the parents following all dosage instruction that is given to them.

Adults and children over the age of 12 will follow the same instruction:

  • Dosage instructions are based on the weight of the patient
  • The per pound recommendation is typically 4.5mg
  • Succimer is taken at 8-hour intervals for a period of 5 days

Children that are older than one year of age but younger than 12 will likely be given the dosage instructions below:

  • Dosage instructions are based on the weight of the patient
  • The per pound recommendation is typically 4.5mg
  • Succimer is taken at 8-hour intervals for a period of five days
  • The above dosage is then administered at 12-hour intervals for the next two-week period
  • Children aged one to 11 will take succimer for a total of 19 days

It is imperative that these dose instructions are followed as closely as possible, and it is advised that the medication is given at the same time each day in order to prevent missed doses. If a dose is missed, it can be given as soon as remembered unless it is close to the next dosage time. If you are concerned about what to do in the event of a missed dose, it is always best to contact the prescribing doctor for advice.

Many children cannot tolerate swallowing the succimer capsules, and in such instances, there are alternatives available:

  • Sprinkle the contents of the capsule over food - applesauce is a good way to get children to take their succimer medication without too much fuss. Simply sprinkle the contents of the capsule onto the sauce and ensure that the child eats it completely. The medication needs to be eaten immediately and swallowed without being in the mouth for a prolonged period of time.
  • Add the contents of the capsule to fruit juice or other liquid - if you choose to add the medication to a liquid it is important that the child drinks it swiftly and immediately. The child should just quickly drink the juice without having it in the mouth for too long a period of time.

In order to increase the effectiveness of this drug, it is very important that all dosage instructions that are provided by the doctor are followed as closely as possible. Do not stop taking the drug in the middle of treatment and be sure to administer succimer for the entire course of time and dosage that is prescribed by the doctor.

Major Drug Interactions:

This drug is known to interfere with some laboratory testing results and has been reported to cause a negative interaction with

  • Clozapine
  • Deferiprone

If you are taking either of these drugs your doctor may choose to provide an alternative medication or alter the dosage of one or both of the drugs known to interact with each other.

Be sure to inform your doctor of any medications that you are taking, including both prescription and non-prescription and any herbal remedies, vitamin or mineral supplements.

In addition to the major drug interactions noted above, there are several medical conditions that can cause a negative effect on patients that use succimer. Be sure to advise your pediatrician or doctor if you or your child suffer from:

  • Dehydration - because of the way that succimer dispels excess lead from the body it is key to maintain a proper level of hydration when taking this drug. If you have suffered from dehydration in the past you may be more susceptible to becoming dehydrated while taking succimer.

All patients, whether they have a past history of the condition or not, need to guard against dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids and following the direction of their prescribing physician.

Let children know that they must use the bathroom whenever they feel the need to urinate and not try to "hold it in" while taking succimer.

  • Kidney Disease - patients that have any type of kidney disorder or disease may experience a longer period of time before the succimer is effective in removing all excess lead from their system. As the lead will be filtered through these organs it is important that they discuss their condition very thoroughly with their doctor and follow any instructions that they give.
  • Liver Disease - the use of succimer can worsen liver disease and if you suffer from this condition it is imperative that you follow all guidance and direction that is provided by your doctor. While you are taking this drug you will likely need to undergo blood testing to allow your medical care providers to monitor your overall liver function while you are taking this drug.

Warnings:

This drug is known to have an unpleasant odor, which will not affect its ability to remove lead from the system. If your small child has severe lead poisoning your doctor may choose to hospitalize them during the administration of succimer.

It is imperative that all directions be followed closely and that the entire course of treatment is taken.

If you experience chills and fever notify your doctor immediately as it may be a sign of infection or a more serious issue.

Storage:

It is always best to store medication in its original container. Do not expose medication to direct sunlight, moisture, or excessive heat or cold. Do not allow the medication to freeze.

Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children.

Consult with your doctor or pharmacist about the proper disposal of any unused or expired medication as it is not advisable to throw away prescription medication or flush it down the toilet.

Summary:

Succimer is an effective treatment in combatting the effects of lead poisoning, especially in children. If your child has experienced such poisoning they must first be removed from the unhealthy environment prior to the start of treatment.

Excess lead can cause significant damage to the body, especially vital organs, and needs to be treated immediately and comprehensively. If your child has suffered from lead poisoning succimer can help to lessen the severity of the symptoms that it causes.

Side effects that are caused by this drug will typically go away on their own, but any sign of fever and/or chills should be reported to your doctor immediately as it can be a sign of infection or a more serious issue. Your doctor will likely require that both blood and urine testing be conducted during the course of treatment to monitor the success of the drug and to watch for any negative effects on the system. Liver and kidney function may be temporarily and negatively impacted while taking succimer.

Be sure to take the drug exactly as directed and for the entire length of time that your doctor prescribes for the most effective and comprehensive treatment of lead poisoning.

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Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
December 22, 2017