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Clin Liver Dis. 2003 May;7(2):415-33.

Hepatotoxicity of hypolipidemic drugs.

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  • 1Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Dyslipidemic conditions and their cardiovascular related complications are common. Effective primary and secondary prevention strategies include therapies to lower LDL and total cholesterol and to increase HDL. Further, it seems that there is a need for therapeutic reduction in triglycerides as it emerges as an independent risk factor for CVD. Many clinical trials have been designed to evaluate pharmacologic compounds in the treatment of the dyslipidemias and they seem to have shown a safe profile, both in the experiment phases and in post-marketing observation studies. Nevertheless, sporadic reports of hepatotoxicity with statins and niacin still arise (Table 2). Although routine hepatic biochemical test monitoring is recommended, the cost-effectiveness is questionable because often these reactions are idiosyncratic and may not be identified by this routine screening. The risk/benefit ratio is in favor of using these medications in individuals at risk. There is no evidence to suggest intrinsic hepatotoxic activity as such. Drugs that lower triglycerides such as fibrates, have been observed to improve hepatic biochemical tests, although in small series. This leads to speculation whether treatment with fibrates would be beneficial for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that is emerging as one of enormous magnitude.

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