Ask a Healer Prescription Drugs Series
Just a few of the FDA-Banned Drugs - Got a bone to pick with the FDA - Where is the drug recall info?
by N J Howell
Update, August, 2011: Since writing this article, I've gone back to the FDA website and was very pleased to see that they had made some changes. To read about the changes, go to FDA article: Improving Recall Information for Consumers. Also noted that you can sign up to be notified of new recalls. If you are on prescription meds, I'd definitely sign up for that.
In a recent visit to the FDA website, I found it interesting that recall information on drugs is harder to find on the website
than all these nutritional recalls. When I typed in the words "prescription drug recalls", I got this message:
Your search - "prescription drug recalls" - did not match any documents. No pages were found containing "prescription drug recalls".
If I tried just the word recalls, the first thing that came up was cheese balls that were being recalled, there's that nutrition target again. Amazingly enough, when I searched for drug recalls, again, the cheese ball recall was first. What does that have to do with drugs?
I did find a page that listed medications where there is an FDA safety alert. That list is quite extensive. It appears that the FDA is very, very, very busy finding health products that have been contaminated or which contain misleading ingredients lists. The drug recalls
are lumped in with every other recall, making them much harder to find.
Ambiguous Recalls Explanations: Another interesting thing I noticed, in reading dozens of recalls on nutritional products specifically, is that they were only "possibly" dangerous. Most read "possibly diverted to retail stores" or "slight chance of contamination". So, they are recalling a lot of things that aren't even proven to be harmful. I'm not saying they shouldn't have been recalled
but I am saying that the numbers can be misleading, unless you read the fine print.
One thing, among others, that I found frightening were the amount of blood products recalled due to being stored at an unacceptable temperature, being mislabled, or contamination. It would make you think twice about getting an infusion but I supposed, in most cases where an infusion is required,
that risk is preferrable to the alternative of not having one.
While I am grateful for the amount of attention given to keeping us safe from what we eat, I'd be thrilled if the FDA turned that investigative eye as closely to prescription drugs that have already been passed and are being used
by millions, before people die from them.
I'd also love it if they would better test prescription drugs for harmful and potentially life-threatening interactions with other drugs used to treat the same, or a related, condition.
Partial List of Banned Prescription drugs:
(rosiglitazone maleate), prescribed to treat diabetes. Banned due to these side effects: liver failure, hepatitis and heart failure
(cerivastatin), prescribed to treat high cholesterol. Banned due to these side effects: fatal rhabdomyolysis
(valdecoxib), prescribed to treat arthritis. Banned due to these side effects: heart attack and stroke, diseases of the skin
Dexfenfluramine (fen/Phen) prescribed to treat obesity. Banned because it caused heart valve damage in some users. This is different than the herbal fen/phen, containing ma huang though ma huang has also been banned by the FDA.
I hope to be adding pages soon to address additional drug recalls and warnings on prescription drugs such as paxil and zoloft. Let me know if you want me to research issues with other prescription drugs.
Health Care Disclaimer: If you have taken a prescription drug that later was recalled by the FDA or, as in the case of Vioxx, by the drug manufacturer, talk with your doctor about any increased risk of health complications you may face as as result. A doctor would be understanding of the legal implications of complications as well as understanding of perspectives of pharmaceutical lawyers.