Drug-induced hepatic disorders. Incidence, management and avoidance

M Døssing, J Sonne


Drug-induced liver injury has been associated with more than 800 different drugs, leading to hospital admission in 1 of 600 to 3500 admissions. This amounts to 2 to 3% of all hospitalisations due to adverse drug reactions, or about 3% of all jaundiced patients. The prognosis of clinically overt drug hepatotoxicity is relatively serious. The clinical picture is essentially nonspecific, with a highly variable latency period from days to years. Drug hepatotoxicity can mimic almost any kind of liver disease. A thorough drug history, a low threshold of suspicion and the exclusion of other causes of liver disease are important for the detection of drug-induced liver disorders. Treatment consists of discontinuation of suspected drug(s), acetylcysteine in the course of paracetamol (acetaminophen) toxicity, and liver transplantation in selected cases of fulminant liver failure. Guidelines regarding the use of selected drugs such as methotrexate and halothane should be followed. Potentially hepatotoxic drugs should be used cautiously in alcoholic patients with or without liver involvement. Patients with uncompensated liver disease should receive a reduced dose of drugs adjusted to the degree of liver function impairment. The general public should be warned against abuse of hepatotoxic drugs such as paracetamol and anabolic steroids.

TidsskriftDrug Safety
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)441-9
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - dec. 1993


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