Top Ten Drugs and Drug-Induced Injuries for 2011
Each year, more and more drugs are approved for sale in the United States by the Food & Drug Administration. With each new approval, however, it seems that yet another drug falls under a cloud of suspicion due to safety concerns and product defects. Many scientists and public safety advocates have expressed concerns over the excessively fast pace for drug approvals and the very limited amount of data from safety studies that are reviewed prior to approval of a new pharmaceutical for marketing. Sadly, there are a number of drugs, both old and new, that are currently the subject of serious safety concerns and litigation:
- Diabetes Drugs – Actos, the most popular insulin-sensitizer drug, has been linked to bladder cancer, even in patients who have only taken Actos for a year. There are also reports of macular edema caused by Actos. Actos is the third drug in this particular class, also known as thiazolidinediones, which have been associated with serious injuries and numerous patient deaths. The first insulin-sensitizer to be recalled was Rezulin, after it was linked to liver toxicity. The second dangerous diabetes drug was Avandia, and the use of Avandia has now been severely limited after years of patients dying or suffering heart attacks, strokes, or congestive heart failure caused by the medication.
- Osteoporosis Drugs – Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel, Alendronate, Didronel, Aredia, Zometa, and a number of other medications are included in the bisphosphonate class of drugs and have been widely prescribed for the treatment of osteoporosis, Paget’s disease, and bone metastases. In early 2010, patients were warned that long-term use of Fosamax and other drugs had been linked to the development of atypical femur fractures, where patients suffer traumatic breaks in their thigh bone or bones due to an internal weakening of the bone caused by long-term use of osteoporosis drugs. Bisphosphonates have also been linked to jaw osteonecrosis and arrhythmias, and there are ongoing studies to determine whether these same osteoporosis drugs also cause esophageal cancer.
- Multaq – This anti-arrhythmia drug has been tied to a number of serious health issues in recent months, including heart failure, torsade des pointes ventricular arrhythmias, stroke, liver failure, serious drug interactions, and death.
- Anti-Depressants – The SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class of anti-depressants includes Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Effexor, Lexapro, Pristiq, and Zoloft. These popular anti-depressants have been noted to cause a number of serious birth defects when ingested during the first trimester of a mother’s pregnancy. These birth defects include:
- Atrial/septal defects, abnormal formation of tissue that separates one chamber of the heart from the other
- Other cardiac (heart) defects and congenital malformations
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPH), in which high pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs make it hard for newborn babies to breathe
- Autism spectrum disorder, neurological disorders resulting in complex developmental disabilities related to social interaction and communication skills
- Neural-tube defects (brain and spinal cord)
- Craniosynostosis (skull defects)
- Infant omphalocele (abdominal wall defects)
- Clubfoot (one or both feet turn downward and inward)
- Anal atresia (complete or partial closure of the anus)
- Cleft lip and cleft palate
- Limb defects (arms and/or legs)
- Premature births
- Topamax – This popular seizure medication has been linked to birth defects in children, including cleft lip and cleft palate. Topamax has also been linked in the past to glaucoma. Although approved for use in a limited number of patients with seizure disorders, it is often prescribed off-label for weight loss, chronic pain, headaches, alcoholism, bulimia, and psychiatric conditions.
- Birth Control Pills – Birth control products that contain drospirenone include: Yaz, Yasmin, Ocella, Gianvi, Zarah, Loryna, Syeda, Beyaz, and Safyral. Young women and girls who ingest oral contraceptives that include the progestin drospirenone are far more likely to suffer serious blood clot-related injuries, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary emboli (PE), sudden cardiac death, heart attack, and stroke. The risks to patients who take Yaz, Yasmin, and similar drugs are far greater than those faced by women who take older birth control formulations that utilize a different progestin.
- Cholesterol-Lowering Statins – There have been concerns for years about the safety of Crestor, a popular lipid-lowering drug, which has been associated with an increased incidence of rhabdomyolysis and other serious muscle injuries. More recently, high-doses of Zocor have also been linked to an increased risk of rhabdomyolysis and myopathies, especially when taken in combination with other drugs prescribed to lower lipid levels.
- Propecia – This popular drug, also known as finasteride or Proscar, has been used to treat male pattern hair loss or baldness. Propecia, Proscar, and finasteride have been linked recently to sexual dysfunction and breast cancer in men.
- Propofol – Propofol is an injectable anesthetic drug which was implicated in Michael Jackson’s death. Batches of these drugs were recalled due to the presence of endotoxins in certain vials. Patients exposed to contaminated propofol could experience disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, acute respiratory distress syndrome (also known as ARDS), shock, and death. There are also lawsuits pending against the manufacturer of Propofol relating to a hepatitis outbreak.
- Pain Medications – Darvon and Darvocet were pulled from the market (after being used for decades) in late 2010 due to an increased risk of arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. The popular transdermal pain patches that contain Fentanyl, such as Duragesic patches, have been implicated in a number of patient deaths and injuries due to manufacturing defects that led to fentanyl toxicity and inadvertent overdose. There are also lawsuits pending over various generic painkillers that have been improperly manufactured and deliver a far greater dose of narcotic medication than anticipated, which has led to respiratory failure and death.
If you or anyone you know has taken any of these listed drugs and is suffering from any of these conditions, don’t hesitate to give us a call 1-888-WE-MEAN-IT (888-936-3264). Our highly trained intake specialists will answer any questions you may have.