Drug-induced hepatic injury in children: a case/non-case study of suspected adverse drug reactions in VigiBase

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2010 Nov;70(5):721-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2010.03754.x.


Aim: To identify which drugs are associated with reports of suspected hepatic injury in children and adolescents.

Methods: Using a worldwide pharmacovigilance database, VigiBase, we conducted a case/non-case study on suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) occurring in the population <18 years old. Cases were all the records with hepatic ADRs and non-cases were all the other ADR records. Records regarding topically administered drugs were excluded from both groups. The association between drug and suspected hepatic ADRs was calculated using the reporting odds ratio (ROR) as a measure of disproportionality while adjusting for gender, country, reporter and calendar year. Sub-analyses were performed within therapeutic class and by excluding vaccination-related reports to reduce confounding.

Results: Overall, 6595 (1%) out of 624 673 ADR records in children and adolescents concerned hepatic injury. Most of the reported hepatic injuries concerned children 12-17 years of age. Drugs that were most frequently reported as suspected cause and were associated with hepatic injury comprised paracetamol, valproic acid, carbamazepine, methotrexate, minocycline, zidovudine, pemoline, ceftriaxone, bosentan, ciclosporin, atomoxetine, olanzapine, basiliximab, erythromycin and voriconazole. The association between hepatotoxicity and all these drugs, except for basiliximab, is already known.

Conclusions: Drug-induced hepatic injury is infrequently reported (only 1% of total) as a suspected ADR in children and adolescents. The drugs associated with reported hepatotoxicity (paracetamol, antiepileptic and anti-tuberculosis agents) are known to be hepatotoxic in adults as well, but age related changes in associations were observed. VigiBase is useful as a start to plan further drug safety studies in children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / epidemiology
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male