Encouraging results are being reported from an eight-year, double-blind, controlled trial of penicillamine in the treatment of primary biliary cirrhosis.
Speaking at the recent Digestive Disease Week meetings in Chicago, gastroenterologist E. Rolland Dickson, MD, head of the section of gastroenterology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn, and chairman of the board of the American Liver Foundation, said that histological progression of the disease has been retarded, liver function has improved, and "temporary improvement in survival" has been achieved. There are a number of adverse side effects, however.
Once thought to be rare, primary biliary cirrhosis is now being reported with much greater frequency, Dickson told JAMA MEDICAL NEWS. This is largely due to the ability of tests now routine in many physical examinations (such as that for serum alkaline phosphatase levels) to uncover early and asymptomatic cases.
Although about 90% of those with the disease are women, there is