Causality of Drugs Involved in Acute Liver Failure Leading to Transplantation: Results from the Study of Acute Liver Transplant (SALT)

Drug Saf. 2013 Sep;36(9):757-64. doi: 10.1007/s40264-013-0071-5.


Background: Several methods have been proposed to assess causality in drug-induced liver injury but none have been tested in the specific context of acute liver failure leading to transplantation (ALFT).

Objective: We took advantage of the Study of Acute Liver Transplant (SALT), a European case-population study of ALFT, to test different causality scales.

Methods: Causality was assessed by experts in SALT, a 7-country case-population study from 2005 to 2007 of adult otherwise unexplained ALFT, for all drugs found within 30 days prior to the date of initial symptoms of liver disease (index date), using information content, causality scales, and data circuit determined from a pilot study, Salome.

Results: The consensus points from Salome were to provide full data on drugs including international non-proprietary name (INN) and doses except for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and to use the World Health Organization (WHO) causality scale. In SALT, among the 9,479 identified patients, 600 (6.3%) were cases of ALFT, of which 187 had been exposed to drugs within 30 days, without overdose. In 130 (69.5%) of these the causality score was possible, probable, or highly probable.

Conclusion: In ALFT cases, once other clinical causes have been excluded and drug exposure established within 30 days, the main discriminant characteristic for causality will be previous knowledge of possible hepatotoxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / epidemiology*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / surgery
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pilot Projects