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Hepatotoxicity by drugs and dietary supplements: safety perspectives on clinical and regulatory issues

Rolf Teschke


Hepatotoxicity by drugs and dietary supplements (DDS) is a rare and unpredictable event but with the risk of a life-threatening clinical course when it occurs. It may emerge despite intensive chemical, toxicological and observational studies that indicate no hepatotoxic signals. This suggests major clinical and regulatory issues that must be addressed in the area of accurate testing, reporting, and accessibility of reliable data. Consequently, in a clinical setting, safety concerns are key elements in the treatment of patients, and require that the diagnosis of DDS hepatotoxicity clearly be established. Causality of DDS hepatotoxicity may be pursued using a diagnostic algorithm consisting of a pre-test, a main-test as the scale of the updated CIOMS (Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences), and a post-test. The results of these tests are then sent item by item to the National Health Agency, where the case will undergo further evaluation for pharmacovigilance, strategic aspects and safety issues. After this analysis, all items of the tests are included in the regulatory database freely accessible to the health and scientific community. With this diagnostic and regulatory algorithm the risk of misdiagnoses and inappropriate regulatory measures may be minimized and the safety improved. In conclusion, DDS hepatotoxicity is a rare but is a potentially life-threatening entity requiring a reliable diagnosis with the aid of a diagnostic algorithm, and a thorough pharmacovigilance evaluation by national and international health agencies. Safety aspects in DDS hepatotoxicity represent a major clinical and regulatory issue and should consequently be addressed.

Key words. Hepatotoxicity, Drugs, Dietary supplements, Safety perspectives, Regulatory agencies

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The Official Journal of the Mexican Association of Hepatology, the Latin-American Association for the Study of the Liver and the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver

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