The onset of anti-thyroid effect is rapid but the onset of clinical effects on thyroid hormone levels in the blood is much slower. This is because the large store of pre-formed T3 and T4 in the thyroid gland has to be depleted before any beneficial clinical effect occurs.
Its most serious rare side effect is bone marrow suppression causing neutropenia and agranulocytosis. This may occur at any stage during treatment and without warning. Patients are advised to immediately report symptoms of infection, especially sore throats, so that a full blood count test may be arranged. If this confirms a low neutrophil count then the drug must be discontinued immediately, allowing for usually a prompt recovery. However failure to report suggestive symptoms or delays in considering the possibility of immunosuppresion and its testing, can lead to fatalities. Should be used with caution in pregnancy as crosses the placenta barrier.