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Free database of drugs associated with liver injury available from NIH

Drug-induced liver injury is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States, accounting for at least half of cases. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently launched a new online resource to advance health-care professionals and researchers' understanding of how prescription and over-the-counter medications can harm the liver and spur development of new methods for reducing rates of drug-induced liver injury.

The database, called LiverTox, is a searchable catalog of roughly 700 medications available by prescription or over the counter in the United States. The NIH plans to add another 300 medications during the next few years. According to an NIH release, database features include:

  • An overview of drug-induced liver injury, including diagnostic criteria, the role of liver biopsy, descriptions of different clinical patterns and standard definitions
  • A detailed report of each drug, including background, case study, product package insert, chemical makeup and structure, dose recommendations and references with links
  • An interactive section, allowing users to report cases of drug-induced liver injury to the LiverTox website. Reports will be automatically forwarded to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch program. MedWatch allows the public and health care professionals to report adverse events, product defects, or product use errors. The FDA uses the information to monitor product safety.

LiverTox creators hope the resource will help physicians better diagnose drug-induced liver injury and boost research on the topic. Jay Hoofnagle, MD, director of the Liver Disease Research Branch at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, commented in the release:

Because drug-induced liver disease is not a single, common disease, it is very difficult to diagnose, with each drug causing a somewhat different pattern of liver damage ... Doctors have to rule out all other causes of liver disease before saying that a patient has drug-induced injury liver ... By integrating data that tends to be scattered across the published literature into a single, readily accessible place, we hope to bring greater focus and interest to the study of drug-induced liver injury, and to guide doctors involved with patient care and ultimately, reduce liver injury and improve the health of people.

Previously: The importance of including risk information in ads for over-the-counter medications, Report shows over 60 percent of Americans don’t follow doctors’ orders in taking prescription meds and Older adults increasingly turning to complementary medicine
Photo by Michelle Tribe

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