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Medications are the mainstay of treatment for most patients with seizure disorders, and more than two dozen such drugs have been approved by the FDA. We review one of the oldest seizure drugs, phe¬nytoin (DILANTIN, PHENYTEK). Patients using the drug need to be aware of its many potentially serious adverse effects.
In this review of restless legs syndrome (RLS), we discuss the limitations of the available drug treatments for the disorder and the nondrug approaches that are the safest options for people with mild to moderate RLS symptoms.
When the beta blocker nebivolol was approved by the FDA in 2007, we advised readers not to use the drug until 2015, in accordance with our seven-year rule. Find out why we now have designated nebivolol as Limited Use and whether it is the right choice for treating hypertension.
Meclizine is a drug that is commonly used to treat symptoms of motion sickness. Find out why we have designated this drug as Do Not Use.
Fentanyl is a dangerous synthetic opioid that has been involved in an increasing number of overdose deaths in the U.S. Learn why this drug should be used only by cancer patients with breakthrough cancer-related pain.
Milnacipran (SAVELLA) was approved by the Food and Drug
Administration in 2009 for the treatment of fibromyalgia in adults, which remains its only approved use. In this article, we review data showing that the drug is ineffective for treating fibromyalgia and dangerous.
Weight gain is an adverse event associated with many widely used medications and may lead to significant overweight and obesity, especially in susceptible individuals. Find out which drugs have this adverse effect.
We describe the troubling story of how a pharmaceutical company manipulated the scientific literature to inappropriately promote the use of citalopram (CELEXA) for the treatment of de¬pression in children and teens despite the fact that the drug was not approved by the FDA for this use.
This article explores one of the newer classes of drugs for treating depression: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Find out which SNRIs are safe for treating depression and which should be avoided.
St. John’s wort, an over-the-counter herbal supplement, has been around for centuries, and many patients have been using it in recent years to self-medicate for depression. In this article, we explain why St. John’s wort should not be used to treat this disease.
Some powerful antipsychotic drugs originally developed to treat schizophrenia now have been approved to treat depression. Learn about the serious side effects of these drugs that make it advisable to explore other, safer options for managing depression.
In his editor’s column, Dr. Carome takes the FDA to task for using the agency’s homepage to promote specific medical devices and medications. By becoming the promoter of the products it regulates, the FDA undermines its objectivity and independence.
Clopidogrel is a widely used drug for reducing the risk of a new heart attack or stroke or cardiovascular death in patients who have had a recent heart attack, stroke or established pe-ripheral vascular disease. This article provides a detailed overview of the drug, including potential serious side effects and important precautions to follow when taking the drug.
Find out how to prevent emergency hospitalizations from two commonly used drugs, warfarin (COUMADIN) and clopidogrel (PLAVIX). There are approximately 33,000 emergency hospitalizations a year from warfarin alone. This article includes a list of more than 50 drugs that can have harmful interactions with warfarin and/or clopidogrel.
This article lists 355 drugs with names that are often confused with similar-sounding drug names. Find out what you can do to prevent getting the wrong drug.
The article lists 72 weight loss dietary supplements that have recently been found to have been spiked with one of nine different prescription drugs, often at dangerously high concentrations. If you have used any products containing these ingredients, you should stop taking them and consult your health care professional immediately.
Tamoxifen (NOLVADEX) is still widely and successfully used for treatment of breast cancer. However, when used along with certain other drugs, its effectiveness can be significantly reduced. The article explains how this can happen and lists 19 different drugs that can cause this serious problem if used with tamoxifen.
Thyroid medications are among the most widely-prescribed drugs in the U.S. In this article, we review 29 different medications that can have harmful interactions with thyroid medicines such as levothyroxine (Synthroid). There are four major kinds of interaction problems that can occur:
• Certain medications can decrease the absorption of levothyroxine resulting in lower levels in the blood.
• Other medications can increase the rate at which the body gets rid of levothyroxine, also resulting in lower thyroid levels in the blood.
• Other medications can cause changes of levothyroxine binding in blood, decreasing the body's ability to use levothyroxine.
• Levothyroxine can affect the safety or effectiveness of other medications by raising or lowering the levels of these other drugs in the blood, causing them to be either infective (lower levels) or dangerous (higher levels).
The article discusses 273 drugs that can have harmful interactions with alcohol. Also reviewed are several ways in which these harmful interactions can occur:
1/ Medications Can Increase Alcohol Blood Levels
2/ Additive effects of medications and alcohol. One of the best- known drug-alcohol interactions is when alcohol, a depressant, is taken with other sedative medications, and excessive sedation or depression of respiration can occur
3/Alcohol can increase the blood levels of some medications leading to toxicity of these drugs.
4/ Alcohol also can reduce blood levels of some medications causing them to be less effective.
Although some of the interactions between alcohol and medications mainly occur in people who drink heavily (three or more drinks on one occasion), many of these interactions may occur with much lower amounts of alcohol use, such as one to two drinks on an occasion.
We strongly urge you to tell your physicians and other health care providers how much alcohol you are drinking so they can effectively assess the risks and advise you about the safe use of alcohol and medications.
A recent study has found large numbers of reports of psychiatric adverse effects with varenicline (CHANTIX) including hundres of reports of suicidal acts, thoughts or behaviors; possible psychosis; and hostility or aggression.
Codeine is routinely converted to morphine in the body in order for it to be an effective painkiller. The metabolism of codeine to morphine takes place through the actions of an enzyme in the liver. The article explains how various drugs and or a person's genetic makeup can greatly influence the conversion of codeine to morphine, making its pain-relieving properties too week if not enough conversion occurs and resulting in what amounts to an overdose at the recommended dose if the conversion to morphine is too rapid. Fourteen drugs that inhibit the conversion to morphine are listed in the article.
This article explains how to understand the International Normalized Ratio (INR), a test applied to a sample of a patient’s blood to determine how “thin” it is when you are using the blood thinner COUMADIN (warfarin). In addition, the article lists more than 50 drugs or dietary supplements that can interact harmfully with COUMADIN to cause the blood to be too thin (abnormal bleeding) or not thin enough which could result in lessening the effect of COUMADIN in stopping blood clot formation.
An FDA reviewer wrote: In the event that unconfounded cases of severe liver injury or acute liver failure related to duloxetine treatment are identified and submitted early in the postmarketing period, the division will use the threshold of three “clean” cases to initiate additional regulatory action that could range from a more prominent warning to the withdrawal of the drug product.
Canadian drug regulatory authorities reviewed reported cases of serotonin syndrome in the July 2003 issue of the Canadian Adverse Reaction Newsletter. The serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening adverse drug reaction involving an excess of serotonin, a naturally occurring nerve transmitter.
A recent article in Medical Marketing and Media (May 2003), aimed at the marketing departments of the pharmaceutical industry, provides an extraordinary view of this industry of which the public, unfortunately, remains unaware. Vince Parry, the “Chief Branding Officer” for a company called “InChord,” tells his pharmaceutical company readers — and potential clients — how to increase sales by combining the “creation” of a disease with a drug to treat it.
You should check the list of drugs that can cause loss of bladder control before starting drug treatment for this condition. You may be able to change from a drug that causes loss of bladder control to a drug that does not or alter the dose. This may be enough to solve the problem.
You should follow the Health Research Group’s Seven Year Rule with aripiprazole. There is no evidence to suggest that aripiprazole is a “breakthrough” drug.
Escitalopram (LEXAPRO) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 2002 and brings to six the number of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants now on the market in the U.S. The primary purpose for developing escitalopram appears to be nothing more than a strategy to protect sales as citalopram nears the end of its patent protection. In the long run, escitalopram will cause economic harm to individuals and the healthcare system.
Dexmethylphenidate (FOCALIN), approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November 2001 for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), joins a growing list of Do Not Use drugs, so called because they primarily result in economic harm to both individuals and the health care system. These drugs exist solely to extend a manufacturer’s brand name monopoly position in a lucrative market but offer nothing better than the drugs they replace.