Analgesics safe in liver disease

The therapeutic use of acetaminophen in pa... [Am J Ther. 2005 Mar-Apr] - PubMed

September 6, 2013 – 11:04

Chinese Herbs For Liver Disease | IVC Journal


Department of Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 401 Haddon Avenue, Camden, NJ 08103, USA.


Acetaminophen has been used safely and effectively for many years to manage pain and/or fever in patients of all ages. It is commonly recommended as first-line therapy for a variety of patients and conditions, including the elderly, children with viral illnesses, and patients with osteoarthritis, gastrointestinal conditions, bleeding disorders, cardiovascular disease, or renal disease. However, its use is often avoided in patients with chronic liver disease. The perception that acetaminophen should be avoided in such patients arose from awareness of the association between massive acetaminophen overdose and hepatotoxicity, combined with a lack of understanding of the metabolism of acetaminophen in patients with liver disease. There are various theoretical mechanisms of acetaminophen hepatotoxicity in chronic liver disease including: altered metabolism and depleted glutathione stores that would be expected to increase accumulation of the hepatotoxic intermediate, N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine (NAPQI). Available studies in patients with chronic liver disease, however, have shown that although the half-life of acetaminophen may be prolonged, cytochrome P-450 activity is not increased and glutathione stores are not depleted to critical levels in those taking recommended doses. Furthermore, acetaminophen has been studied in a variety of liver diseases without evidence of increased risk of hepatotoxicity at currently recommended doses. Therefore, acetaminophen can be used safely in patients with liver disease and is a preferred analgesic/antipyretic because of the absence of the platelet impairment, gastrointestinal toxicity, and nephrotoxicity associated with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs.


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