A national study of children and adults who have developed liver problems from popular drugs and alternative medicines is underway at the University of Michigan.
Recently, withdrawals of the diabetes drug Rezulin and the antidepressant Serzone have been related to liver toxicity. Other substances, including herbal drugs and weight loss agents, also can damage the liver.
The study, called the Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network or DILIN, will enroll people over the age of 2 years who have recently developed liver problems after taking any drug or herbal therapy. Patients who have suffered liver damage because of an overdose of acetaminophen, a painkiller often sold under the brand name Tylenol, are not eligible. They will give blood and urine samples for diagnostic and genetic analyses, have an ultrasound scan of their liver, and complete health questionnaires. Participants will be evaluated again six months later, to see if their liver damage is persistent, and if so they’ll be contacted annually for follow-up.
The study also is looking for people who in the past 10 years have suffered liver damage from four drugs: the anti-tuberculosis drug isoniazid; the anti-seizure drug Dilantin; the antibiotic Augmentin , and the migraine and epilepsy drug Depakote. They will have blood drawn and will be interviewed about their experience with the drug they took. Their medical records also will be examined. Information will be given to a registry for the study.
Six other hospitals in southeast Michigan will help U-M recruit patients: Arbor VA Healthcare System, Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti, Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and Providence Hospital in Southfield. U-M is one of five national sites for the study, funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.