Posts Tagged ‘drug’

Possible link between antidepressants and miscarriage

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

depression-2Researchers from Canada have reported a possible connection between miscarriage and antidepressant drugs. The Canadian Medical Association Journal reported the results of their study on Monday.

But the study was preliminary; more research needs to be done before we know for sure if there is a connection. Also, it’s possible that depression itself, not the medications used to treat it, may increase the risk of miscarriage.

A women who is pregnant and has depression should talk with her health care provider about the risks and benefits of taking medications. The illness itself increases the chances of pregnany complications. So the woman and her provider must carefully consider whether she should or should not take antidepressant drugs. For more information, read the March of Dimes article Depression During Pregnancy.

Some antibiotics linked to increased risk of several birth defects

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

pills21An exploratory study has found that two types of antibiotics taken during pregnancy are linked to an increased risk of several birth defects. 

The two types of antibiotics are:

Nitrofurantoins, including Macrobid and Furadantin 

* Sulfonamides (also known as sulfa drugs), including Bactrim 

Penicillins appear to be the safest of the drugs studied.

Antiobiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections. Bacterial infections can be dangerous to the fetus if untreated. So antibiotic treatment is sometimes appropriate for pregnant women.

If a pregnant woman needs to take an antibiotic, she should talk about the pro’s and con’s of the various choices with her health care provider.

It is too early to say if the antibiotics linked to birth defects in the study are the cause of the defects. Something else may be the cause. Researchers are continuing to study the question.

One of the authors of the study told U.S. News & World Report, “The most important message is that most commonly used antibiotics do not seem to be associated with the birth defects we studied.”

The study was published in the November issue of the medical journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Concerns about the painkiller Darvon: Risk of overdose, death

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking several steps to reduce the risk of overdose from Darvon (also called Darvocet and propoxyphene). Darvon is usually prescribed for pain. Every year, some people die when they take too much of this medication.

As a result of the FDA decision, label warnings will be strengthened, and new research will be done.

If you need a painkiller, talk to your health care provider about the choices available to you, including aspirin, ibuprofen, oxycodone and codeine. For all medications, take only the recommended amount and no more. If you are pregnant, don’t take any painkillers without first talking to your health care provider.

Preventing overdose: Experts discuss acetaminophen

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Several news organizations have reported that the Food and Drug Administration is hosting a meeting this week about how to prevent people from taking too much acetaminophen. Known as Tylenol, this medication is also used in pain relievers such as Excedrin.

Although acetaminophen is in almost everyone’s medicine cabinet, it can be a dangerous drug if you take too much of it. Every year people in the United States die from an overdose of this drug. Acetaminophen is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S.

So when you or your children are taking acetaminophen, be sure to follow the instructions exactly. Acetaminophen is also used in some medications that contain more than one drug (for example, in some cough syrups and pain relievers). Again, follow the directions exactly.

For more on acetaminophen, click here. Of course, if you’re pregnant, don’t take acetaminophen without first talking to your health care provider.

Off-label use of prescription drugs

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

medicationsWe’ve all heard it a million times: Follow the directions on the label when you take your medication.

But sometimes health care providers prescribe a drug in ways that the label doesn’t talk about. This is called off-label use.

Often this is a good thing. The provider may know about research that has found a new use for the drug and the instructions have not yet been updated. But as with all medicine, there are also risks involved. Researchers may still be learning about the new way the drug is being used.

If your provider recommends an off-label use, ask if the drug is likely to work better than an approved treatment.

For more info, visit the Web site of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And, of course, if you’re pregnant, don’t take any medications without first talking to your health care provider.

The cost of prescriptions: Talk to your health care provider

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

pills-smI sit there on the examining table. The doctor writes the prescription for me to have it filled at my pharmacy. Familiar scene, right?

I have never once, in my entire life, asked, “What’s this gonna cost? Is there a way to keep the cost down and still treat what I have?” Apparently, I’m not alone.

According to a recent poll by Consumers Union (the folks that produce Consumer Reports), most patients never talk about price when they get a prescription from a health care provider.

Consumer’s Union encourages us to have a “heart-to-heart” with our provider when we’re worried about cost. Often, other good, less expensive choices are available.

For instance, generic drugs contain the same active ingredients as a brand-name drug, but they cost less. A generic drug is available only after the original drug’s patent has expired.

In these hard times, some people are cutting back on meds because they’re worried about costs. But this isn’t wise; you could seriously harm your health. Instead, ask your provider if there are less expensive choices.

What are you and your family doing to deal with the high costs of prescriptions and medical care?

Faking it: Drugs on the Internet

Monday, March 9th, 2009

capsules2I lived in New York City for many years. I always got a kick out of those guys on the sidewalk selling “real” Omega watches and “real” Prada bags. Sure! An Omega watch for $19.99.

What’s the latest phony product? Drugs over the Internet. About 6 out of 10 prescription drugs sold over the Web are fakes.

This estimate comes from the agency in Great Britain that’s like our Food and Drug Administration. It’s called MHRA (Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency).

Not only are many of the drugs fake, they may also contain harmful ingredients. Here’s some of the weird stuff found in these drugs:
  * Shoe polish
  * Floor polish
  * Chalk
  * Cement powder
  * Arsenic
  * The paint used for stripes on the road

This scares me! And I don’t think I’m alone.

The best way to avoid counterfeit drugs is to use a reputable pharmacy and a real prescription. If you want to try an online pharmacy, ask your health care provider for a recommendation. And be sure its licensed in the country where you live. 

Has anybody ordered prescriptions over the Web? What was your experience?

Wikipedia omits important drug info

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I’ve done it, and you probably have too. My doctor prescribes a medication. I run home and do a quick Google search.

The Web site that comes up first is often Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia written and edited by its users. But new research raises questions about the drug information on Wikipedia. 

According to a recent study, Wikipedia omits important info about drugs. The research was published in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

Researchers compared drug info on Wikipedia and Medscape Drug Reference (MDR), which is professionally edited and written. Wikipedia answered fewer questions, provided poor information on drug dose, and left out important facts. Example: Wikipedia failed to state that the drug Arthrotec can cause a pregnant woman to miscarry.

While MDR did better than Wikipedia most of the time, it had its own problems. In a few cases, it had factual errors. The researchers didn’t find any factual errors in the Wikipedia info they looked at it.

What does this mean for you and your family? Neither Wikipedia nor MDR should be your primary source for drug info. Talk to your health care provider and pharmacist first. For over-the-counter drugs, read the package info. For prescriptions, follow the instructions exactly. And read those annoying package inserts with the tiny, tiny type. If you have questions or concerns, ask your health care provider or pharmacist about them. Also, check out the drug info on MedlinePlus, the respected Web site of the National Library of Medicine.

If you are pregnant, take special care since some medications can harm your baby. For more information, read the March of Dime article about drugs during pregnancy.

How do you get info on drugs? What works for you? Tell us about it.

Please don’t share prescription drugs!

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

One out of three women between the ages of 18 and 45 have borrowed or shared a prescription drug in the past year, according to a new study reported in the Journal of Women’s Health. Using someone else’s medication may be tempting, but please don’t. Sharing prescription drugs can be risky for any woman, but especially if she’s pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

If you use another person’s medication, you may have serious side effects or complications. Or a medication you are already taking may interact badly with the borrowed drug. For pregnant women, some prescription drugs can cause birth defects.

To learn more about prescription drugs and pregnancy, read the March of Dimes article. Another good source for information is OTIS, the Organization of Teratology Information Services. “Teratology” means the study of birth defects. OTIS has several fact sheets on specific medications.

So be smart and be safe for yourself and your baby.