Drug Linked To Liver Damage

man walking
Dave Storey took a new drug called Duract to relieve chronic back pain and ended up with liver failure. CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson tells Dave's story.

Dave Storey, a chef in Nevada, was nursing chronic back pain in late 1997 when his doctor gave him a new pain medication, Duract. Dave tells CBS News "My doctor told me he was taking it for a golfing injury. He even said I could double up on the dosage if I needed to."

What Dave didn't know is that Duract was supposed to be used for short-term pain management, generally limited to about ten days. In hindsight, many medical experts say that was a problem since Duract was prescribed to people with chronic long-term pain who weren't likely to want to stop using it once they discovered how effective it was.

Dave says his doctor, inexplicably, gave him a prescription for a 90-day supply. He took Duract two to three times a day for weeks.

But suddenly, in January 1998, Dave became severely ill. At first, he thought he had the flu. But when the illness lingered and he lost 70 pounds, he and his family knew he had a much more serious problem.

In April of 1998, when he went in for minor surgery to have a hernia repaired, his doctor found cirrhosis: a surprising development since Dave did not seem a likely candidate for liver problems. "I don't drink, I never smoked, it just didn't make sense," Dave says.

Finally, a doctor linked his mysterious liver disease to Duract. Today, he's unable to work or do much of anything except sit and read or watch television. He gets around by leaning on a cane. His wife, Connie, helps him through the day since he often has difficulty standing longer than a few minutes at a time. The medicine he takes for his illness tends to aggravate his chronic nausea and makes him vomit.

A month after Dave got sick, Duract's manufacturer changed the label to warn of the potential liver damage, and Duract was then taken off the market entirely in June 1998.

But the warnings came too late for Dave; his liver damage is irreversible. The father of 11 began evaluations for a life-saving liver transplant in late 1998, and is still waiting.