Antipsychotics: Kids in foster care with behavior problems are being given two antipsychotic drugs at once, according to the study. The drugs include Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa (and if you want to see something terrifying, just look at the list of Zyprexa’s side effects!). The drugs were developed for schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder. But schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are extremely rare in young children, and the foster children in question did not have any psychiatric symptoms. They just came from bad homes.
NSAIDs: One study conservatively estimated that 107,000 people are hospitalized each year for NSAID-related gastrointestinal complications and “at least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur each year among arthritis patients alone.” Another study showed that patients who take NSAIDs have a 90% greater likelihood of dying from all causes.
Vioxx: For example, Merck’s drug Vioxx was known to increase the risk of heart attack, yet the FDA approved it, which caused the death of 60,000 Americans and caused 140,000 heart attacks.
Pradaxa: The FDA knew there was no antidote to stop patients on this blood-thinner drug from hemorrhaging, but approved it anyway. Even more egregiously, the FDA has never required the manufacturer to carry a conspicuous “black box” warning about hemorrhage on Pradaxa. The clinical trials were rife with errors, and doctors helping to oversee the trial were found to have mismanaged their part of it. When adverse event reports about Pradaxa started mounting, the FDA issued statements defending the drug. Members of the FDA advisory committee that unanimously endorsed Pradaxa had extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Two went on to receive substantial compensation from the maker of Pradaxa. The drug is also associated with a markedly higher risk of heart attacks and other acute coronary events.
Vytorin: For two years, Schering-Plough, the maker of the popular cholesterol drug Vytorin, sat on the results of a clinical trial showing that the drug provided no benefit in improving artery health. During that time, the drug was heavily marketed to consumers in TV ads; the marketing was only halted in 2008 after a congressional investigation was launched.
Multaq: In 2003, a clinical trial of Multaq, a drug that treated cardiac arrhythmias, was stopped because more patients who were getting the drug were dying than those who received a placebo—though the study results weren’t published until five years later. Even so, the drug was approved by the FDA in 2009 as a treatment for atrial fibrillation in certain patients—just not as a means to reduce deaths!
Avandia: This diabetes drug was found to increase heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths—even though the drug’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline, had known about the risk before the drug was approved. A BMJ study found that 35 of the drug’s 42 clinical studies had never been published, and were obtained only because a court case required the pharmaceutical company to turn over the data.
Rivaroxaban: In the RECORD 4 drug trials that were used to establish the safety anti-blood-clotting drug rivaroxaban, FDA found rampant misconduct, including falsified data and fraud. “Yet,” writes one author, “if you look in the medical journals, the results from RECORD 4 sit quietly in The Lancet without any hint in the literature about falsification, misconduct, or chaos behind the scenes. This means that physicians around the world are basing life-and-death medical decisions on a study that the FDA knows is simply not credible.”
Warfarin/Coumadin: This blood thinner is one of the leading causes of emergency room fatalities. In 2011, it was the subject of 1,106 serious adverse event reports, including seventy-two deaths—and that is just in hospitals! Warfarin has a long list of nasty side effects, including bleeding gums, blood in the urine, blurred vision, chest pain, peeling skin, serious bone loss, and confusion. It can also cause necrosis—the death of skin tissue. One study found that long-term warfarin use after myocardial infarction (that is, after a heart attack) did not reduce mortality or reinfarction, but is associated with significantly more major bleeding.
Ritalin/Adderall: In a study involving 153 children, those who were given common ADHD medications including Ritalin did not grow as much as unmedicated children—and when the medication was stopped, they did not recover any of that lost growth. Ritalin has the same pharmacological profile as cocaine, but it’s more potent—the “high” experienced by addicts comes from the stimulation of neural transporters, and Ritalin, in pill form, occupies those neural transporters more effectively than even crack cocaine. Ritalin may also cause cancer. A small University of Texas study showed damage to the chromosomes of twelve children who had taken Ritalin for just three months. It also may cause long-lasting changes in brain cell structure and function, actually destroying the brain and increasing aggression. And Adderall can lead to liver problems, allergic reactions, and drug addiction.
Rezulin: An anti-inflammatory drug Given fast-track approval by the FDA, Rezulin was linked to sixty-three confirmed deaths and probably hundreds more. “We have real trouble,” an FDA physician wrote in 1997, just a few months after Rezulin’s approval. The drug wasn’t withdrawn from the market until 2000.
Lotronex: Against concerns of one of its own officers, the FDA approved Lotronex, an antidiarrheal drug, in February 2000. By the time it was withdrawn nine months later, the FDA had received reports of ninety-three hospitalizations, multiple emergency bowel surgeries, and five deaths.
Propulsid: A top-selling gastroesophageal reflux disease drug for many years, the drug was linked to hundreds of cases of heart arrhythmias and one hundred deaths.
Redux: Taken by millions for weight loss after its approval in April 1996, Redux was soon linked to heart valve damage and a disabling, often lethal pulmonary disorder. Withdrawn in September 1997.
Pondimin: A component of Fen-Phen, the diet fad drug. Approved in 1973, Pondimin’s link to heart valve damage an a lethal pulmonary disorder wasn’t recognized until shortly before its withdrawal in 1997.
Duract: The painkiller was withdrawn when it was linked to severe, sometimes fatal liver failure.
Seldane: America’s and the world’s top-selling antihistamine for a decade, it took the FDA five years to recognize that Seldane was causing cardiac arrhythmias, blackouts, hospitalizations, and deaths—and another eight years to withdraw it.
Hismanal: Approved in 1988 and soon known to cause cardiac arrhythmias, the drug was finally withdrawn in 1999.
Posicor: For treating hypertension, the drug was linked to life-threatening drug interactions and more than one hundred deaths. An expert on the advisory committee said, “Posicor should not have been approved.”
Raxar: Linked to cardiac toxicities and deaths.
Qnexa: The drug industry, having been exposed for over-hyping the “cholesterol problem” for the sake of its own profit, now sees the obesity epidemic as the next opportunity for exploitation. So the FDA approved Qnexa, a diet pill that has documented risks of causing birth defects and heart problems—the first new prescription weight-loss medication since 1999. There is only one other diet prescription medication currently on the market: Orlistat (marketed under the trade name Xenical), which tends to cause loose, oily stools, along with a host of other possible side effects, some of which may be serious.
Qnexa was rejected twice, once in October 2010 over heart risk concerns, and again in January 2011 because one of its ingredients can cause cleft lips in the children of women who take it. Qnexa is a combination of two existing drugs, the appetite suppressant phentermine and the anti-seizure medication topiramate. Both have serious risks, including cardiovascular adverse effects, vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and suicidal thoughts.