Salix report uncovers climbing death rates from chronic liver disease

Hospitalizations and deaths from chronic liver disease (CLD) continue to rise, according to a new report from Salix Pharmaceuticals.

The pharma’s annual "Liver Health Annual Trends Report" also revealed a lack of knowledge and proper care for patients with liver disease, resulting in CLD overtaking diabetes and stroke as the No. 1 cause of death among people ages 25 to 54.

As many as 34% of gastroenterologists reported increases in patient hospitalizations due to alcoholic cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver in the past year.

More than half (55%) of primary care physicians and 49% of nurse practitioners/physician assistants surveyed reported feeling uncomfortable treating overt hepatic encephalopathy (HE) and preferring outside consult. Salix, which markets Xifaxan for HE, wants to overcome this.

These data reveal a gap in the adoption of national treatment guidelines, particularly among primary care physicians. The report surveyed 400 healthcare providers who treat patients with CLD, along with qualitative and secondary research, to try to reveal the biggest hurdles to improving diagnosis and treatment for patients with CLD.

Perceived issues with payer coverage and the high cost of out-of-pocket treatment were the leading factors impacting treatment initiation and treatment interruptions. In addition, 50% of providers report that the ability of a patient to pay out-of-pocket for treatment is extremely important for improving CLD patient outcomes.

The annual report was released in October during Liver Health Awareness Month as part of an effort to better educate physicians on identifying and managing patients with CLD and cirrhosis. This report is timely, as 38% of respondents admitted to not knowing the national guidelines for the management of CLD.

“It is our hope the Salix Liver Health Annual Trends Report will increase awareness of this growing public health concern, help bridge the knowledge gap, and provide tools for healthcare providers that may improve identification and management of liver disease,” Nicola Kayel, vice president, marketing at Salix Pharmaceuticals, told Fierce Pharma Marketing.

“[It] may help bring a better understanding of the impact of chronic liver disease and potentially help address under-diagnosis and under-treatment among the approximately 4.5 million adults in the U.S. living with the disease.”

While the full annual report can be found at, the platform also houses resources for healthcare providers to help identify and manage patients with CLD and cirrhosis and foster positive physician-patient conversations.

A second site,, offers patients/caregivers information and resources on working with their providers to manage their HE and complications with cirrhosis. A third site,, is for the healthcare provider side of treatment of patients with HE.  

“Salix remains committed to delivering resources that inform, educate and help healthcare providers improve the care of people living with chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and complications such as hepatic encephalopathy,” Kayel said.

Moving forward, Salix remains committed to providing education not only to physicians but all to healthcare providers along with patients and caregivers.

“Supporting a wide range of GI educational programs that aim to improve GI health, we view education as a key underpinning to who we are as a company,” Kayel said. “We look to support both patients and physicians with impactful resources so that all healthcare providers can continue to support their patients to the best of their abilities as well as provide resources and educational materials to patients so that they can have informed discussions with their providers.”