Drugs can cause a variety of forms of liver injury, ranging in its clinical manifestation and severity.
It is for these reasons that the area of drug-induced liver disease is so complex and difficult for research.
The actual mechanism(s) by which specific drugs cause damage to the liver are known for only a few drugs and susceptibility factors for hepatotoxicity are not well defined.
Indeed, for most causes of drug-induced liver disease, there are no specific means of prevention or treatment, save for early identification and rapid withdrawal.
Drug-induced liver disease is now the main cause of death from acute liver failure in the United States.
In response to these problems, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) has created the "Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network" (DILIN) made up of 5 clinical centers with expertise in hepatotoxicity from across America and a further Data Coordinating center for data collection and analysis.
Their role is to advance the understanding and research on drug-induced liver disease by developing standardized definitions and instruments to identify and characterize cases of drug-induced liver injury.
The Network has also been given the role of identifying well-defined cases of drug-induced liver injury prospectively that will allow for the collection of epidemiological data and biological samples for study of pathogenesis.