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I Have Liver Damage Due to a Prescribed Drug—Do I Have a Case?

Jun 16, 2020 | Drug Injury

Prescription drugs are designed to resolve or treat a medical issue, not cause more problems. However, that is sadly not always the case, as nearly 30 percent of instances of acute liver failure are related to medications.

Drug-induced liver failure is quickly becoming a significant problem in the United States. Every day, new drugs are introduced to the market, and many are lacking in pre-approval clinical studies. Individuals who experience liver failure as a result of prescription medication deserve compensation for the hardships they endure as a result of these harmful drugs.

Prescription drugs that cause liver damage can result in additional medical costs and untold emotional damages. You are entitled to compensation for any health complications that derive from faulty medications prescribed by medical professionals you trusted. If you are suffering from liver damage due to a prescribed drug, contact Stewart & Stewart. We specialize in medical malpractice and drug injury cases, and we’re eager to put our years of experience to work for you. In the meantime, here’s what you should know about liver failure and prescription drugs.

Risk Factors of Prescription Medications 

It is reported that more than half of Americans regularly take at least four prescribed pills each day. Yet very few understand the relationship between long-term medication use and liver damage.

The liver represents one of the largest organs in the body and is vital in converting toxins into harmless substances. The critical organ produces essential proteins for the body and helps to prevent blood clotting. It is also instrumental in providing vitamin K and removing old or damaged blood cells. Your chances of liver disease increase as you get older. Further, women face a higher risk because their bodies are generally smaller than men. 

Though the FDA does its best to regulate the massive prescription drug market, the truth is that many drugs slip through the cracks or simply don’t have enough time to test their long-term effects. The FDA requires less than 3,000 people to trial a new drug. Therefore, the potential for liver-related issues is not always immediately made known, because it’s impossible to fully gauge the dangers before a drug reaches widespread use. Unfortunately, it’s often too late for the initial patients of the prescription medication once they find out the substance is damaging to the body or liver.

Prescription Medication and Liver Failure

The digestion of herbal supplements, over-the-counter medications, and prescription drugs may cause hepatotoxicity or liver failure. Certain drugs have more of a reputation for harm and carry severe warnings about liver damage. Some medications are known to damage the essential organ, while others are improperly metabolized.

Though liver failure is not always associated with a single issue, combining medications and other substances is a common source of difficulty for the organ. Some patients actually notice drug-induced liver issues shortly after taking a new medication, and not years or decades down the road. 

Furthermore, liver failure can be attributed to several drug-induced liver diseases, including hepatitis, hepatic necrosis, steatosis, cholestasis, and non-alcoholic cirrhosis. Prescription medications may also elevate liver enzymes and create blood clots inside the liver.

Tragically, an estimated 75 percent of patients that suffer acute failure because of a drug reaction need a liver transplant or they may pass away. Once you reach that point, your options are severely limited in terms of treatment, and the repercussions are irreversible.

Regardless, these statistics don’t stop drug manufacturers from producing a barrage of prescription drugs without the appropriate preclinical studies. In fact, there are close to 1,000 drugs currently available on the market with the potential to cause liver failure.

Dangers also include common over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, which has a history of causing conditions related to liver disease. Additionally, many recent drugs have been recalled over liver-related issues, including Trovan, Rezulin, Propofol, Hydroxycut, Multaq, Serzone, and Cylert. Liver failure has also been connected with medications that include NSAIDs, isoniazid, glucocorticoids, and amiodarone.

Symptoms of Drug-Induced Liver Injury (DILI)

The objective of new medications is to help the body and resolve or mitigate issues, not create symptoms that are worse than what the drug is designed to treat. Unfortunately, the influx of medications on the market leaves some lacking necessary tests and approval. This inevitably leads to problems down the road.

Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) is connected to 10 percent of all cases of hepatitis every year in the United States. This statistic is particularly problematic because hepatitis is the most common contributor to acute liver failure in the nation.

DILI is the most frequent reason drug manufacturers withdraw medications from the market. If you’ve recently felt the ill effects of drug-induced liver damage, you are by no means alone.

Symptoms of DILI may include: 

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Confusion
  • Ability to easily bruise
  • Edema (fluid accumulation in legs)
  • Ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen)
  • Kidney failure

Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) may result from prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, herbs, vitamins, hormones, illicit drugs, and environmental toxins. Often, the cause of liver disease is more than one factor, but if the symptoms take off after you begin taking a new medication, a correlation is usually present.

Types of Drug-Induced Liver Injury (DILI)

Patients that are victims of drug-induced liver injury may have one of the following conditions:

  • Hepatitis
  • Fulminant Hepatitis
  • Necrosis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Steatosis
  • Cholestasis

You should speak with an attorney today if you believe a prescription medication has contributed to your liver problems. Medical malpractice lawsuits hold doctors and drug manufacturers responsible for putting faulty drugs on the market.

Stewart & Stewart Represents Drug Injury Cases

The experienced attorneys at Stewart & Stewart can assist you with a drug injury or medical malpractice case. Med mal cases that involve prescription drugs that cause liver damage are serious threats to public safety, and we’re dedicated to securing justice for you and protecting other victims.

Drug manufacturers and doctors must be held accountable for providing prescription medications that cause more harm than good. Liver damage is irreversible, and victims that suffer because of faulty prescription meds need to seek compensation. Learn more about how we can represent your case with a free consultation by calling 1 (800) 33-33-LAW or reaching out online.

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