Nimesulide-induced acute hepatitis

W Sbeit, N Krivoy, M Shiller, R Farah, H I Cohen, L Struminger, R Reshef
Annals of Pharmacotherapy 2001, 35 (9): 1049-52

OBJECTIVE: To report the occurrence of nimesulide-induced acute hepatitis confirmed by biopsy and an in vitro lymphocyte toxicity assay.

CASE SUMMARY: A 54-year-old Arabic woman treated with nimesulide for chronic low back pain was admitted to the hospital with acute hepatitis confirmed by biopsy. Her liver function test results returned to normal within one month after nimesulide discontinuation. An in vitro lymphocyte toxicity assay confirmed that the liver injury was due to nimesulide exposure.

DISCUSSION: A case of acute hepatitis secondary to nimesulide, confirmed by biopsy and a laboratory in vitro assay, is described. Although the occurrence of clinically significant liver damage due to nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is low, the enormous consumption of these drugs has made them an important cause of liver damage. Nimesulide, a relatively new NSAID commonly used in Europe, with a relative selectivity to cyclooxygenase type 2, can cause a wide range of liver injuries, from mild abnormal liver function to severe liver injuries. These effects are usually reversible on discontinuation of the drug, but occasionally can progress to fatal hepatic failure.

CONCLUSIONS: Drug-induced acute hepatitis is a well-recognized adverse effect of many drugs, including nimesuilde. Identification of a drug as a cause for this life-threatening disease is important because the discontinuation of it may be life saving. This article confirms the occurrence of nimesulide-induced hepatitis. It also highlights the importance of monitoring liver function test results after initiating therapy with such a drug.


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