Liver disease patients who develop hepatic encephalopathy (HE) have almost double the risk of dying compared with liver disease patients without HE in the same period, according to new research.

The new data presented at the International Liver Congress in London last week showed that liver disease patients with HE are admitted to hospital three times more often for illnesses directly related to their liver disease, compared with liver disease patients without HE. They are also admitted to hospital one and a half times more often for unrelated illnesses and put a huge strain on healthcare resources.

Furthermore, liver disease patients with HE will consult primary care more often following initial diagnosis and stay in hospital longer than those without HE, collectively representing a substantial increased use of healthcare resources.

There is currently no cure for HE other than liver transplant. But XIFAXAN 550 (rifaximin-α) significantly reduces the risk of further HE episodes. Data demonstrates that treatment with XIFAXAN 550 versus standard care (lactulose) offers a cost-effective treatment option for reduction of recurrence of overt HE over a number of different time periods and plausible scenarios.

"Hepatic encephalopathy is a serious but largely unrecognised condition that must be considered as part of the overall burden of liver disease." said Dr Mark Hudson, Consultant Hepatologist, Freeman Hospital, UK.

He added: "These new data demonstrate that hepatic encephalopathy significantly increases mortality risk in patients with chronic liver disease and places a substantial additional burden on already-stretched healthcare systems in both primary and secondary care.

“XIFAXAN 550 is an important new medicine in the management of hepatic encephalopathy, and the cost-effectiveness data presented today support its benefits in terms of potential cost savings versus current practice."