Liver failure and damage often arises from using certain drugs and medications.
In recent years the numbers of dangerous drugs has increased, prompting several widely publicized drug recalls and warnings. Among the dangerous drugs are Rezulin, Serzone, Arava and Trovan. Many people who have experienced liver failure after use of these drugs have filed lawsuits across the country.
The FDA recalled Rezulin on March 21, 2000. The FDA stated at the time that the continued use of Rezulin posed an "unacceptable risk" to diabetes patients. As of that date 63 Rezulin users had died of liver failure according to FDA reports. It is now believed that the total number of deaths may be ten times higher than the originally reported 63 cases.
As of January 2002, at least two lawsuits have been successfully prosecuted against the drug maker, resulting in jury awards of 24.9 and 43 million dollars to each victim.
Rezulin was originally prescribed by doctors to diabetics who needed insulin but needed to better control their blood sugar. Rezulin was designed to help the insulin (injected or self produced) be more efficient enabling the sugar from a patients blood to supply energy to the cells.
Interesting before the US recall in 2000, Rezulin had already been withdrawn and banned in England as early as December 1997 because of the death of an American on Rezulin. Warner-Lambert, he drug manufacturer, prevented and fought a ban in the United States for over two years before the FDA finally decided to prohibit sales of the drug in March 2000.
Rezulin sales are estimated to have generated Warner-Lambert nearly $1.8 billion in revenues. Rezulin was prescribed 488,000 times in January of 1999 alone. 63 Rezulin users have reportedly died from use of the drug.
Arava, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, has been linked to at least 12 deaths from liver failure and many cases of severe liver toxicity and liver failure. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease in which a patient's own immune system attacks their joint cartilage, about 2 million Americans suffer from the disease. The disease can be debilitating and extremely painful. Arava was created as an alternative to the main treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, the drug methotrexate which suppresses the immune system limiting joint destruction. When it was approved in 1998, the FDA itself said Arava was no more effective methotrexate.
In March 2002, a public advocacy group called Public Citizen asked the Food and Drug Administration to withdraw Arava. The group cited reports already made to the FDA, about Arava's association with about 130 cases of severe liver toxicity, which included 56 hospitalizations and the 12 deaths. Two of the deaths were reportedly young patients in their 20's.
Since 1998, there have been over 1.5 million prescriptions written for Arava in the US. Lawyers believe the drug may be too dangerous. Studies have shown that Arava is associated with as many as six times more cases of fatal liver damage than the more widely prescribed arthritis drug methotrexate.
In Europe, the Agency for the Evaluation of Medical Products warned both doctors and patients, about the dangers of Arava in causing liver damage citing nine deaths from liver failure in patients taking Arava. Aventis Pharma, the drug maker sent a warning letter to doctors and the American College of Rheumatology also warned doctors and patients, to have monthly blood during the first six months using the drug, along with follow-up testing every two to three months.
Arava remains in body tissues for an extremely long time. Warnings on its packaging indicate that components can remain in the body for several months, thus even if patients have stopped using Arava after an adverse reaction, the damage can continue to accrue to patients.
In January of 2002, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. the company that makes Serzone warned doctors that "cases of life-threatening hepatic failure have been reported in patients treated with Serzone." It continued that many people have and will suffer liver failure associated with Serzone dosage, "about 3-4 times the estimated background of liver failure."
The FDA required the company as of December 2001, to include a warning on labels of the a drug Serzone informing patients that potentially life-threatening liver damage, and an unusually high rate of liver failure can occur when using the drug. There have been many reported cases of liver failure leading to transplant and death.
Trovan is an antibiotic manufactured by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. After its approval by the FDA in 1997, Trovan was prescribed around 300,000 times per month.
The drug, also called Trovafloxacin, is used to treat a wide variety of common bacterial infections. In June 1999 the FDA reduced the permitted uses of Trovan after many reports of liver damage and fatal liver failure. Trovan is now used only as a drug of last resort, given only to patients with life-threatening diseases and who have not responded to other antibiotic treatments. Trovan warning label reads as follows:
"TROVAN HAS BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH SERIOUS LIVER INJURY LEADING TO LIVER TRANSPLANTATION AND/OR DEATH. TROVAN-ASSOCIATED LIVER INJURY HAS BEEN REPORTED WITH BOTH SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM DRUG EXPOSURE. TROVAN USE EXCEEDING 2 WEEKS IN DURATION IS ASSOCIATED WITH A SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED RISK OF SERIOUS LIVER INJURY. LIVER INJURY HAS ALSO BEEN REPORTED FOLLOWING TROVAN RE-EXPOSURE. TROVAN SHOULD BE RESERVED FOR USE IN PATIENTS WITH SERIOUS, LIFE- OR LIMB-THREATENING INFECTIONS WHO RECEIVE THEIR INITIAL THERAPY IN AN IN-PATIENT HEALTH CARE FACILITY (I.E., HOSPITAL OR LONG-TERM NURSING CARE FACILITY). TROVAN SHOULD NOT BE USED WHEN SAFER, ALTERNATIVE ANTIMICROBIAL THERAPY WILL BE EFFECTIVE."
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If you or a family member has used any of the above drugs and have experienced liver damage or failure, please contact a lawyer through our web site.