, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 38-48

Management of drug-induced liver disease

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The treatment and prevention of drug-induced liver injury starts with the recognition of hepatotoxicity at the earliest possible time so that the suspected drug can be discontinued expeditiously. Both liver enzyme monitoring and vigilance for signs of hypersensitivity involving the liver are useful strategies for many agents known to cause hepatocellular necrosis leading to liver failure. Specific antidotes to prevent or limit hepatic damage exist for only a few drugs, the most important being N-acetylcysteine for the treatment of acetaminophen hepatotoxicity. Corticosteroids are of unproven benefit in the setting of fulminant failure. Ursodiol may be helpful in instances of cholestatic injury. For other agents, supportive measures and the increasing use of liver-assist devices as well as emergency liver transplantation are available when drug injury evolves into irreversible liver failure. It is hoped that a better understanding of hepatotoxicity mechanisms will lead to the development of more specific and effective forms of therapy in the near future.