Regulatory causality evaluation methods applied in kava hepatotoxicity: are they appropriate?Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2011; 59(1):1-7RT
Since 1998 liver injury has been assumed in some patients after the use of kava (Piper methysticum G. Forster) as an anxyolytic herbal extract, but the regulatory causality evaluation of these cases was a matter of international and scientific debate. This review critically analyzes the regulatory issues of causality assessments of patients with primarily suspected kava hepatotoxicity and suggests recommendations for minimizing regulatory risks when assessing causality in these and other related cases. The various regulatory causality approaches were based on liver unspecific assessments such as ad hoc evaluations, the WHO scale using the definitions of the WHO Collaborating Centre for International Drug Monitoring, and the Naranjo scale. Due to their liver unspecificity, however, these causality approaches are not suitable for assessing cases of primarily assumed liver related adverse reactions by drugs and herbs including kava. Major problems emerged trough the combination of regulatory inappropriate causality assessment methods with the poor data quality as presented by the regulatory agency when reassessment was done and the resulting data were heavily criticized worldwide within the scientific community. Conversely, causality of cases with primarily assumed kava hepatotoxicity is best assessed by structured, quantitative and liver specific causality algorithms such as the scale of the CIOMS (Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences) or the main-test as its update. Future strategies should therefore focus on the implementation of structured, quantitative and liver specific causality assessment methods as regulatory standards to improve regulatory causality assessments for liver injury by drugs and herbs including kava.