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Arthritis Drug May Cause Liver Damage

Arava, the popular drug for rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to liver damage and at least 12 deaths. According to a story from the March 29, 2002 Intelihealth, Arthritis the FDA has received at least 130 reports of severe liver toxicity linked to Arava use. The full toll according to the article was reported as including 56 hospitalizations and 12 deaths, said Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. Two of the deaths were people in their 20s. He also stated that this prescription drug for rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to dozens of serious liver injuries and 12 deaths and should be banned.

To date, the FDA has six times more reports of liver damage among Arava users than users of methotrexate (another popular arthitis drug), even though thousands more people use methotrexate. Last summer the American College of Rheumatology warned doctors to take special care in prescribing Arava, by repeatedly testing patients' livers for signs of harm.

"It is impossible to predict which patients will be at risk", said Dr. David Yocum of Arizona Health Sciences Center. "I do not believe that the general rheumatologist understands or has any knowledge about these serious and potentially life-threatening complications."