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The importance of medicine management in alcohol-associated liver disease

8 October 2021

A common hurdle when managing people with alcohol-associated liver disease is the focus of a new review published in the Australian Prescriber by Princess Alexandra Hospital pharmacist Dr Kelly Hayward and hepatology research fellow Dr Amy Johnson.  

Targeted to primary care clinicians, the article delves into the evidence for using key medicines and discusses important opportunities to prevent medication-related harm.

“People with alcohol-associated liver disease often take medicines to manage complications of liver disease and comorbidities.

“Assessing the severity of liver disease and regularly reviewing medications is essential for appropriate management of these patients,” said Kelly.

Alcohol-associated liver disease is one of the major causes of chronic liver disease in Australia with between 10-35 per cent of excessive drinkers expected to develop advanced disease.

“Optimising medicines to manage the complications of liver disease, as well as comorbidities, can be challenging in this cohort due to a number of factors including patient compliance, the effects of malnourishment, and the potential for interactions with alcohol in the bloodstream.

“Therefore, primary care clinicians are required to regularly review and monitor patient’s medications to ensure ongoing appropriateness and safety,” she said.

For patients, the best way to manage their diagnosis is abstinence from alcohol.

“Intervention to support abstinence is essential because cessation of drinking reduces the risk of liver disease progression and complications related to cirrhosis. Importantly, it improves clinical outcomes at all stages. 

“In addition to supporting abstinence, optimising medicine use is imperative to improve outcomes for these patients and minimise harm.”

Read the full review on the NPS MedicineWise website.

Last updated 8 October 2021
Last reviewed 8 October 2021

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