Arthritis treatment, flacocoxid (Limbrel) is associated with severe liver damage

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports, “Flavocoxid – an arthritis treatment marketed as an effective counter to joint inflammation – appears to cause ‘clinically significant liver injury’ in some patients, and physicians should probably discourage their patients from taking it, says a new study and its accompanying editorial” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

According to the blog post, the researchers “cite three cases in which flavocoxid use was found to be the ‘very likely’ cause of acute liver injury, and a fourth in which liver injury was found to be ‘possibly due to’ flavocoxid use.” The blog post also mentions that “all four patients recovered their full liver function after discontinuing use of flavocoxid.”

Reuters notes that flavocoxid is sold under the brand name Limbrel and is considered a “medical food” available only by prescription to treat osteoarthritis. As the story explains, medical foods are different from prescription drugs in that they do not have to be proven safe and effective before reaching the market.

HealthDay reports that although the liver problems linked to flavocoxid appear to be “rare and easily reversible,” lead author Dr. Naga Chalasani, director of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, nevertheless advises that patients who take the treatment “should be aware of the potential for liver problems,” adding that “patients should not assume that ‘medical foods,’ such as Limbrel, are 100 percent safe.

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