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Drug-induced hepatitis, low-dose venlafaxine

August 1 2008 at 9:27 PM

Drug-induced hepatitis, low-dose venlafaxine.

Department of Pharmaceutical Care, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA 52242-1009, USA.

OBJECTIVE: To report a case of drug-induced hepatitis associated with low-dose venlafaxine. CASE SUMMARY: A 60-year-old white woman receiving venlafaxine 75 mg daily for vasomotor symptoms presented after one month of therapy with nonspecific complaints, including abdominal pain. A series of diagnostic and laboratory tests revealed an enlarged liver and elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) up to 372 U/L, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) up to 99 U/L, gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) up to 962 U/L, and alkaline phosphatase up to 758 U/L. All potential hepatotoxic medications were discontinued. Within one week after stopping venlafaxine, her liver function test results showed marked improvement. Almost 4 weeks after discontinuing therapy, venlafaxine 37.5 mg was reinitiated. Her ALT, AST, GGT, and alkaline phosphatase again increased to 269, 49, 256, and 263 U/L, respectively, 6 days after resuming therapy. Upon discontinuation of venlafaxine, her liver function abnormalities resolved. DISCUSSION: This case is significant due to the severity of symptoms and consequent liver function test results involved in diagnosing drug-induced hepatitis. It is also remarkable because of the hepatotoxicity that occurred initially and on rechallenge with low-dose venlafaxine. The hepatotoxic effects of venlafaxine have been characterized as rare and idiosyncratic. The Naranjo probability scale revealed that the adverse drug event was probable. CONCLUSIONS: Venlafaxine therapy can lead to drug-induced hepatitis, even when used at low doses. Clinicians should be aware of this possible adverse effect of venlafaxine therapy and monitor patients closely after initiation of therapy.

PMID: 16418323 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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