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Lamisil (terbinafine) is a popular anti-fungal medication. Unfortunately, it has been linked to cases of severe, life-threatening liver damage — including cases where patients needed a liver transplant or died from liver failure. As a precaution, experts recommend a blood test to check for elevated liver enzymes before starting Lamisil and during treatment. However, despite precautions, serious injuries can still occur.

Lamisil Overview

Lamisil (terbinafine)is an oral anti-fungal medication. It is usually prescribed to treat fungal infections of the fingernails, toenails, groin (jock itch), feet (athlete’s foot), scalp, and hands. In some cases, the fungal infection is not cured for several months after Lamisil is discontinued, because healthy nails take some time to grow back.

Lamisil was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996. It is manufactured by Novartis. In 2007, the FDA approved generic Lamisil.

Lamisil and the Liver

One of the most serious side effects of Lamisil is liver damage, which can be so severe that it causes liver failure. The Warnings and Precautions label for Lamisil warns, “Rare cases of liver failure, some leading to death or liver transplant, have occurred with the use of Lamisil.”

Due to the risk of liver damage, experts recommend that new patients should have a blood test to check for elevated liver enzymes, which could indicate pre-existing liver problems. Routine blood tests during treatment are also recommended. According to the warning label, “Treatment with Lamisil should be discontinued if biochemical or clinical evidence of liver injury develops.” Lamisil is contraindicated in people who have liver disease.

The liver is a vital organ in the body with many responsibilities, one of which is cleaning the blood. For some people, the liver may have problems metabolizing Lamisil and removing it from the blood. This could cause the liver to become inflamed and damaged. One of the primary symptoms of liver damage is elevated liver enzyme levels on the bloodstream.

Lamisil and Elevated Liver Enzyme Levels

Liver cells contain certain enzymes which help the liver perform properly. When a liver cell is seriously damaged or inflamed, it may leak enzymes into the bloodstream. A doctor can detect higher-than-normal liver enzyme levels with a blood test. Elevated liver enzyme levels are often a sign of liver damage. The condition can occur soon after a patient starts taking Lamisil, or it may develop after several weeks of taking Lamisil.

The following liver enzymes are usually elevated:

  • Alanine transaminase (ALT)
  • Aspartate transaminase (AST)

Normal liver enzyme levels typically return after Lamisil is discontinued. However, in some cases, liver damage can lead to liver failure, liver transplant, or death.

Lamisil Side Effects

Lamisil has been linked to some serious side effects. One is anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening whole-body allergic reaction. Another is liver damage or liver failure. Contact a physician immediately if you suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Liver damage
  • Liver failure
  • Diarrhea
  • Persistent upset stomach
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue, extreme tiredness
  • Vomiting, nausea
  • Pain in the liver area (upper right part of the abdomen)
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stools
  • Severe skin rash (could be allergic reaction, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, or toxic epidermal necyolysis)
  • Fever (one of the most common serious side effects)
  • Sore throat
  • Other symptoms of infection, liver damage, etc.