“If you look at the statistics, the incidence of elevated liver enzymes in other medications on the market are astronomical in comparison to Rezulin,” says Richard Bernstein, MD, FACE, FACN of the Diabetes Center in Mamaroneck, New York.
Bernstein contends that the number of deaths related to liver damage in individuals taking Rezulin is very small. He emphasizes that deaths as a result of high blood sugars are much higher in people with diabetes, and that organizations like Public Citizen should be focusing on that instead. “I have over 60 patients on Rezulin. The first person to show elevation of liver enzymes just came in the other day. Aside from that, I have had three people whose liver enzymes have gone down while taking Rezulin, which is the opposite effect of what Public Citizen is claiming.”
According to Bernstein, there are three liver enzyme tests: the ALT, which has a normal range of 0 to 38; the AST, which has a normal range of 0 to 42; and the GGTP, which has a normal range of 0 to 65.
“Anything above these numbers constitutes a high liver enzyme reading, and it is recommended that usage of any pharmaceutical agent be discontinued if numbers get this high during the drug’s administration,” says Bernstein.
Bernstein goes on to say that having to perform the mandatory liver enzyme tests is a bit of an inconvenience in that it leaves the physician liable for any complications that might arise from taking Rezulin or any other drug.
“The test means that if someone taking Rezulin develops viral hepatitis, and the doctor has not been checking him or her for enzymes, then the doctor could be held liable,” says Bernstein. “What I have been doing is leaving the decision to use Rezulin or insulin up to the patient.”
Bernstein does perform the liver enzyme test for his patients taking Rezulin.