In an article published this week in the influential New England Journal of Medicine, lead author Victor J. Navarro, M.D., clinical associate professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, writes that liver injuries continue to plague the nation's drug development system, proving very costly to pharmaceutical companies that spend millions of dollars on development, only to find later that a new medicine is potentially toxic to the liver.
"Any drug can cause liver problems," says Dr. Navarro, who is also medical director for hepatology and liver transplantation in the Department of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. "Recognizing liver injury depends on vigilance," he says. "We propose in the paper that probably the best way to detect liver injury early is for patients to simply speak with their physicians about the drugs they are taking."
Because of their genetic makeup, certain people are more likely than others to develop liver-related problems, Dr. Navarro notes. He believes that in the coming decade, researchers will find new ways to develop safer drugs with fewer side effects by better understanding the potential genetic impact a new medication may have and by identifying those individuals who might be more likely to be harmed by the drug.
Dr. Navarro points out that some well-publicized instances of drug poisoning and liver injury from acetaminophen overdose have garnered widespread media attention. But acetaminophen is safe when taken properly. Some abuse it and others suffer accidental injury because they don't realize how much they are taking from other medications as well. Taking acetaminophen for headache along with de
Contact: Steve Benowitz
Thomas Jefferson University