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Rifampin relieves pruritus in children with cholestatic liver disease

H A Cynamon, J M Andres, R P Iafrate
Gastroenterology 1990, 98 (4): 1013-6
Chronic cholestatic liver disease in children frequently results in severe intractable pruritus. Current forms of therapy, including cholestyramine, are usually ineffective. Therefore, a 6-wk, double-blind, crossover study was designed to test the ability of rifampin to relieve pruritus in children with chronic cholestasis. Rifampin proved effective in alleviating pruritus in all five children tested compared with a placebo-treated group. After the 6-wk study period, rifampin was continued for 6 mo, and its effectiveness was maintained. No complications resulted from rifampin use. This study and a similar study in older patients with primary biliary cirrhosis suggest that a highly effective form of therapy is available for treatment of severe pruritus in patients with chronic cholestasis. These patients must be carefully selected and frequently monitored.

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