by Cynthia Foster, MD
The following is a list of medications which have been considered so dangerous by the medical profession that they have either been withdrawn from the market, or their use is restricted to only certain types of patients, or they are allowed to be used, but all information about the drug is required to contain warnings of the severe side effects that may result. Even with strict labeling requirements, this has not been enough to prevent deaths and severe disability due to adverse reactions to these medications.
To learn more about potentially harmful drugs, visit the FDA's website and look for the "Dear Health Professional" letters at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/safety.htm
What does one of the most respected medical journals in the country have to say about the risks of medications?
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the diet drugs fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were withdrawn after the Food and Drug Administration reviewed echocardiographic studies showing heart valve abnormalities in 31% of the patients tested. This combination of drugs (commonly called Fen-Phen) was withdrawn in the early part of 1997. Since its approval by the FDA 24 years earlier, it had been in widespread use - presumably, no one was aware of its very serious side effects. Not much later, in December of 1997, the popular nonsedating antihistamine terfenadine (Seldane) was withdrawn due to its risk of causing potentially fatal heart arrhythmias when combined with the macrolide class of antibiotics and because safer alternatives existed. The drug had been in widespread use since its FDA approval 12 years previously. Amazingly, the situation with these two drugs is not unique nor is it rare. Discovering new dangers of drugs after marketing is so common that overall, 51% of approved drugs have serious adverse effects not detected prior to approval.
Each year prescription
drugs injure 1.5 million people so severely they require
hospitalization and 100,000 die, making prescription drugs a leading
cause of death in the United States. Around 1400 employees work for the
FDA whose main duties relate to approving new drugs. Yet, there are
only 52 full time employees who monitor the safety of all the drugs
currently on the market. This includes approximately 5,000 brand name,
generic and over-the counter drugs. To
2. Fenfluramine and Dexfenfluramine (Fen-Phen), appetite Suppressants: withdrawn September 1997 when studies found heart valve abnormalities occurred in 31% of patients tested.
3. Phenylpropanolamine: ingredient used in many cough and cold medications and over the counter weight loss medications increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
4. Posicor, blood pressure-lowering medication, banned June 1998. Risks include life-threatening interactions with at least 26 other medications.
5. Seldane, antihistamine, withdrawn March 1998. It caused rare but serious heart problems when taken with other drugs, mainly the macrolide class of antibiotics (such as erythromycin).
3. Calcium channel blockers: blood pressure medication increases risk of stroke and heart attack
9. Geodon: a drug that can cause diabetes that can be permanent, even after the drug is stopped. Rare complication of diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperglycemic coma.
12. Immune Globulin Intravenous (IGIV): may cause severe kidney damage or kidney failure
13. Lamictal: an antiepileptic drug linked to a potentially fatal rash.
14. Lamisil: drug used for fingernail and/or toenail fungus may result in liver failure, some of these cases leading to death or liver transplant.
15. Lovanox (low molecular weight heparin): - blood thinner can cause long term and/or permanent paralysis
16. Mellaril: drug used for schizophrenia has been associated with heart rhythm abnormalities and sudden death.
17. Permax: drug used for Parkinson's disease has been associated with damage to heart valves, scarring of lungs, fluid on lungs, scarring of peritoneum, and fluid/inflammation of space surrounding heart.
19. Prempro (conjugated estrogens/ medroxyprogesterone tablets) and Premphase (conjugated estrogens/ medroxyprogesterone tablets) used to treat menopausal symptoms and as a preventative for osteoporosis. (Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories). May cause many serious side effects.
20. Propulsid: a drug used for GERD and gastroparesis (delayed emptying of the stomach usually found in diabetics), caused severe heart rhythm abnormalities. It is still available but its use is restricted.
22. Serentil: drug used for schizophrenia may cause serious heart rhythm abnormalities and sudden death.
24. Topamax: anti-epilepsy drug may cause serious eye damage and/or blindness
25. Trovan: an antibiotic that can lead to liver dysfunction &/or liver failure. Its use is restricted.
antibiotic which can cause the cessation of the body's ability to make
blood (myelosuppression) - a life-threatening condition.
"Before You Begin A Thing
Remind Yourself That
Difficulties And Delays Quite Impossible To See Are Ahead...
You Can Only See One Thing Clearly, And That Is Your Goal. Form A Mental Vision Of That And Cling To
It Through Thick And Thin."
- Kathleen Norris