Treatments for Alcoholic Hepatitis Don’t Extend Life

The primary medications that international guidelines recommend for alcoholic hepatitis, prednisolone and pentoxifylline, do not affect mortality rates, according to a major study. Publishing their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers conducted a trial of 1,053 participants with alcoholic liver disease receiving treatment at 65 hospitals in the United Kingdom.

The investigators randomly assigned the participants to four groups who received either prednisolone and pentoxifylline, prednisolone and a placebo, pentoxifylline and a placebo, or two placebos.

Across the board, 16 percent of the participants died within four weeks of starting treatment. After 90 days, 29 percent had died. A year into the study, 56 percent had either died or received a liver transplant. There was no statistically significant difference in survival rates between the four treatment groups.

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