The arthritis treatment known as flavocoxid could cause livery injury, according to a new study that was drawn on the records of 877 patients who took the medication, which is considered a medical food.
Flavocoxid, sold under the name Limbrel, is a mix of plant compounds and is considered a medical food. The compounds are flavonoids and catechins, which are best known as the components of green tea. Reuters reports that the substance is available by prescription only, and treats osteoarthritis.
The study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and cites three cases in which flavocoxid use was found to be the cause of acute liver injury, though it is noted that patients who had liver problems and discontinued the medication were able to recover quickly, according to US News.
The study authors wrote that:
“Our report provides convincing evidence that flavocoxid is capable of causing clinically apparent, acute liver injury.”
Along with doing their own research, they searched through the drug manufacturer, Primus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s records to see that they discovered 31 possible cases of liver problems among over 284,000 users since the drug hit markets in 2004.
While patients who experienced liver problems were able to recover, lead study author Dr. Naga Chalasani, the director of the division of gastroenderoloty and hepatology at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis still recommended that patients who take Limbrel for arthritis be made aware of the risk.
According to Reuters, Dr. Chalasani stated that, “There’s no single test you can do to say, ‘Bingo, it’s caused by this.'” At the same time, however, the timing of liver injury in relation to starting and stopping the medication is key. All four patients they discovered showed signs of liver toxicity (nausea, fatigue, and yellow skin) within three months of starting the arthritis treatment. They all got better within 3 to 12 weeks after discontinuing it.
Chalasani stated of the recovery time period that, “It seems like you stop taking it, and the liver injury improves pretty quickly, in a matter of weeks.” Which is good news for those who take Limbrel for arthritis.