Drug induced liver injuries can develop following the use of a wide range of drugs, including over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol and Hydroxycut, and prescription drugs such as:
As we will talk about below, not all of these drugs are bad drugs. There are many conditions for which the risk of the underlying condition makes the liver injury risk acceptable. But, for some drugs, they never should have been put on the market because they were not properly tested to determine whether there was a risk of injury to the liver.
Types of Liver Injuries from Drugs
The number one reason drugs are pulled from the market is because they cause hepatoxicty (liver injury). These drugs can cause the following problems in the liver:
- Cirrhosis (scarring)
- Blood clots in liver
- Necrosis (killing of liver cells often from hepatitis
- Cholestasis (decreased bile flow)
- Steatosis (accumulation of fat)
There are two kinds of liver injuries that are caused by drug use. Nonidiosyncratic liver injuries, like Tylenol for example, are predictable injuries. We know that Tylenol is dose responsive and that too much Tylenol can cause a liver injury. Idiosyncratic hepatoxicty, which accounts for 11% of these cases, is completely unpredictable.
Who Is at Risk?
We are all at risk for hepatic drug reactions. But some of us are at greater risk than others. Thankfully, children draw a break — problems are rare. The elderly do not fare as well. Women seem to at greater risk then men. Not surprisingly, those with a drinking problem are also at greater risk because of the toll drinking takes on the entire hepatic system.
Who is responsible in cases like this? Sometimes, it is the drug manufacturer because they knew or should have known of the risk of the drug and have either never have put it on the market or a warning should have been placed that properly advised doctors and patients of the risk.
Certainly, this is where the battle rages on in the Tylenol cases. There is no dispute that acetaminophen is a dose related liver toxin. It is particularly dangerous in conjunction with alcohol. It was known in 2002 that there were over 56,000 ER visit, 26,000 hospital stays, and 458 deaths from acetaminophen. McNeil also knew something else important: almost a quarter of the people taking the drug were using more than the recommend dosage. Yet McNeil failed to issue a meaningful warning.
If a meaningful warning was issued, then it is the doctors who have to step up and make sure the patient is a candidate for the drug given the patient’s condition and the risk of the drugs for that particular patient.
Hiring a Lawyer
If you want an attorney to help you figure out whether you have a claim against a doctor or a health care provider for your liver injury, call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation here.