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Killer Drug Alerts: Avandia, Coumadin Recall "Code Red” and More


Most people take prescription and over-the-counter drugs under a false veil of safety. Because they are FDA-approved and often taken with a doctor’s seal of approval, it’s easy to believe they could do no harm.

drug costs

It’s all too common for drugs to remain on the market even after dangerous, and deadly, side effects are discovered.

In reality, however, medications always pose risks of side effects, even when taken correctly, and there are a concerning number of product recalls and safety alerts that occur after drugs have already hit the market … and been taken by millions of innocent consumers.

Most recently, the diabetes drug Avandia, used by more than half a million Americans, has come under fire for increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke and death. The link has been on the record for more than a decade, when a doctor from Maryland found that more than half of the patients she put on Avandia developed symptoms that could lead to heart failure.

Since then, Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic published an analysis linking Avandia to a 43 percent increased risk of heart attacks.
Despite the purported risks, the drug remains on the market and brings in upward of $1 billion a year. To date, the FDA has only added strong warnings to the drug’s label, but has not taken steps to pull it from the market.

Coumadin Samples Recalled

Coumadin, a drug used to prevent blood clots, has been recalled this month because the active ingredient, isopropanol, may be either too strong or too weak. The recall involves only Coumadin in 1 mg blister-pack packages, such as those given as free samples from doctors’ offices.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

“A decrease of active ingredient may increase the risk of clots which could lead to heart attack or stroke and if there is too much active ingredient, there is an increased risk of bleeding.”

If you have Coumadin in a 1 mg tablet blister pack, contact your doctor immediately.

Eighth Recall for Tylenol, Motrin and Other Popular Over-the-Counter Drugs

Millions of bottles of Johnson & Johnson pain relievers have been pulled from store shelves for a variety of reasons, including containing metal particles or too much active ingredient, having a musty or moldy smell, and problems with a nauseating chemical on shipping pallets.

Among the recalled products are certain lots of Children’s Tylenol, Motrin IB, and Benadryl.

More Drug Warnings and Recalls from the FDA

The FDA maintains an ongoing database of safety alerts for prescription and over-the-counter medications. If you take a drug, it’s a good idea to check their web site out to be sure your medication hasn’t made the list.

As of July 2010, important drug warnings from the FDA include:

  • Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs): Used in patients with high blood pressure and other conditions, a meta-analysis found use of the drugs may increase your risk of cancer. The FDA issued an alert that there is an ongoing safety review for cancer risk related to this class of drug.

Brand names include Atacand, Avapro, Benicar, Cozaar, Diovan, Micardis, and Teveten.

  • Arava (leflunomide): The FDA issued a boxed warning to this rheumatoid arthritis drug to warn of a risk of severe liver injury. The warning is based on an FDA review that found 49 cases of severe liver injury, including 14 cases of fatal liver failure, between August 2002 and May 2009 among patients taking the drug.

  • Air- or Gas-Pressurized Spray Devices: Air or gas embolism has occurred during or immediately after application of hemostatic drug or biological products using air- or gas-pressurized sprayers. The FDA issued an alert to surgery and operating room staffs to be aware that the devises may be used in an incorrect manner, at higher than recommended pressure or at a distance too close to the surface of the bleeding site, leading to potentially life-threatening air embolisms. At lease one fatality has been reported.

Too Many Dying From Killer Drugs

healthy lifestyle

Attention to a healthy lifestyle can keep you well … and off of potentially dangerous medications.

In last month’s article Death by Medicine: Seniors to Kids, Drugs and Poisons, you can read key facts from an eye-opening report by Gary Null and colleagues, which revealed that 2.2 million people suffer from adverse drug reactions to prescribed medications while in a hospital each year.

At the root of the problem is that many prescription drugs are vastly over-prescribed for conditions that often can be relieved or prevented through natural lifestyle modifications. The authors of the “Death by Medicine” report state:

    “Medicine is not taking into consideration the following monumentally important aspects of a healthy human organism:

    (a) Stress and how it adversely affects the immune system and life processes
    (b) Insufficient exercise
    (c) Excessive caloric intake
    (d) Highly-processed and denatured foods grown in denatured and chemically-damaged soil
    (e) Exposure to tens of thousands of environmental toxins.

    Instead of minimizing these disease-causing factors, we actually cause more illness through medical technology, diagnostic testing, overuse of medical and surgical procedures, and overuse of pharmaceutical drugs. The huge disservice of this therapeutic strategy is the result of little effort or money being appropriated for preventing disease.”

See, a mediation is rarely the “cure” for illness that you’re looking for. If you want to truly get health, and prevent disease at its source, you need to take steps to live a health-promoting life, and here’s how …

  1. Eat plenty of health-promoting fresh and raw foods, and limit processed junk foods. As you switch over to more fresh foods, we highly recommend you take advantage of the healthy and absolutely delicious recipes in the book “Alive in 5”: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes.

When prepared with locally grown ingredients from a source you trust, these are among some of the healthiest meals you can eat.

Most everyone also agrees that monounsaturated fats, the kind found in avocados, olive oil, and nuts, and omega-3 fats, the kind found in fish and fish oils and flaxseeds, are exceptionally healthy and should definitely be included in your diet.

  1. Get enough sleep every night. Once you are in bed, listen to relaxing music or the excellent Sleep Easy CD to help you "shift gears" and relax into sleep.

  1. Keep stress to a minimum. For times when you need help putting your mind at ease, the Pure Relaxation CD will calm your mind, soothe your emotions and create a state of deep relaxation in your body. These meditations are unique in that they guide the listener to relax in a natural, effortless way.

  1. Exercise regularly. If you’re looking for an exercise program you can do right from your own home, we highly recommend adding SheaNetics from, a mind-body workout, to your exercise routine.

SheaNetics, founded by fitness expert Shea Vaughn, blends ancient and contemporary movements with eastern philosophy, creating a stylized approach to fitness designed to improve the quality of today’s western living.

Finally, if you do decide to take a medication, make sure you’ve done your homework and know what risks and side effects to be on the lookout for. You should also be sure to avoid these five dangerous medicine mistakes that quite a few people make.

SixWise Ways!
SixWise Says ...

Dis-ease: Stop the CAUSE ... No Need for a Cure!
“Any doctor will admit that any drug can have side effects, and that writing a prescription involves weighing the potential benefits against the risks.”

--Sen. Mark Udall

Recommended Reading

Why are So Many Americans Being Poisoned by Prescription Drug Overdoses? And, the Surprising Group Who is Most at Risk

Death by Medicine: Seniors to Kids, Drugs and Poisons


CBS News July 12, 2010 Coumadin 1 mg Tablet Blister Packs: Recall July 8, 2010 MedWatch

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