Jun 23, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
When doctors were recently asked which commonly prescribed medications they would avoid, they came up with the following eight. Perhaps you might want to reconsider these medications as well. At a minimum, speak to your doctor, as there are safer options for all of these medications.
Advair: This asthma medication contains the long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) salmeterol. A 2006 study of 19 trials, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, revealed that with regular use, LABAs can increase asthma attack severity. Salmeterol is more widely prescribed than other LABAs, thus the danger is greater and may contribute to as many as 5,000 asthma-related deaths in the United States annually. Another study that same year led the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to label Advair with a "black box,” the FDA’s strongest warning.
Avandia: In September, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed in a study that those taking diabetes drug Avandia—or rosiglitazone—for at least one year suffered an increased risk of heart failure (109 percent) or a heart attack (42 percent). One possible reason is that Avandia may cause dangerous fluid retention or raise artery-clogging LDL cholesterol. The FDA asked Avandia maker, GlaxoSmithKline, to conduct a long-term study assessing users' heart risks; however, that study is not expected to commence until later this year.
Celebrex: This pain medication is linked to increased risks of stomach bleeding, kidney trouble, and liver damage. According to a 2005 New England Journal of Medicine study people taking 200 mg of Celebrex twice daily more than doubled their risk of dying of cardiovascular disease; those on 400 mg twice daily more than tripled their risk. By the way, two other drugs in this drug class—Bextra and Vioxx--were banned for similar heart damage risks, yet Celebrex remains available.
Ketek: This antibiotic, generally prescribed for respiratory-tract infections, carries a higher risk of severe liver side effects, has been linked to heart-rhythm problems and liver disease, and can interact with other medications. Although still prescribed, the FDA limited Ketek’s usage to the treatment of pneumonia early last year.
Prilosec and Nexium: The FDA has investigated a suspected link between cardiac trouble and acid-reflux drugs Prilosec and Nexium. Also, because both drugs are proton-pump inhibitors, they may be overly effective at stopping stomach acid production, raising pneumonia, bone loss risk, and fracture risk (this, by over 40 percent in patients on long-term use).
Original Visine: Because Visine shrinks ocular blood vessels in the same way Afrin does nasally, overuse of its active ingredient tetrahydrozoline can create an endless loop of vessel dilating-and-constricting that may cause more redness, increasing the need for more Visine, causing more redness, and so on.
Pseudoephedrine: Other than that this decongestant is a critical component in methamphetamine, it can raise blood pressure and heart rate, has been linked to heart attacks and strokes, and can increase symptoms of benign prostate disease and glaucoma.
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