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Tylenol Risks to Your Health

Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and other manufacturers are arguing that cough and cold drugs with the pain reliever acetaminophen should stay on the market, in spite of concerns from U.S. regulators.
Tylenol
The FDA is weighing a ban on combination products, which are often marketed to consumers with colds or other mild illnesses. The industry instead urged a widespread effort to warn buyers about the risks of liver damage linked to acetaminophen.
….Problem with taking tylenol
Too much acetaminophen has been known to cause liver injury for decades, but FDA officials are worried that the rise of products that combine it with other medications will lead consumers unknowingly to overdose by taking too much of a medication, or by taking too many different products at once.

The FDA advisory panel that met about the effects of excessive doses of acetaminophen also made another recommendation to the FDA– to take popular painkillers Vicodin and Percocet (and their generic versions) off the market because of the effect both drugs can have on the liver when taken for extended periods.

The FDA will most likely follow this recommendation.
Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen; Percocet is oxycodone and acetaminophen. While oxycodone is available without the acetaminophen (as OxyContin) hydrocodone is not available alone in the United States.

Resources:
Reuters June 29, 2009
The Consumerist July 1, 2009

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Turmeric Can Sooth Bowel

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Do you have bowel problem? Try out turmeric, for a new study says that the spice relieves symptoms in many cases.

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An international team has carried out the study and found that curcumin, the major yellow constituent of turmeric, helps in reducing inflammation in many people suffering from bowel disease, the ‘British Journal of Nutrition‘ reported.

Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel, can be aggravated or relieved by the sufferer‘s diet. Only by linking particular components to effects on the specific genotype can we get true understanding of the disease and how to treat it.

“This finding means that some people with Crohn’s disease may benefit from eating turmeric, but this is entirely dependent on their genetic makeup. Others may not get any benefit, or may even have a severe reaction,” lead researcher Christine Butts of Plant & Food Research said. And, according to the researchers, the discovery may assist in the development of diet-based treatments for people suffering from the equivalent genetic form of the disease.

“We are one step closer to understanding this disease and how to best control it with diet,” Butts said.

Added co-researcher Kieran Elborough: “In diseases with complex genetics, such as Crohn’s disease, understanding which genetic variants are affected by which food compounds is important in knowing what to avoid in the diet.

“Using this knowledge, we can develop dietary supplements with added benefits which can help bowel disease sufferers based on their personal genotype.”

Sources: The Times Of India

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The Little-Known Dangers of Motrin

The parents of a girl who went blind after taking Children’s Motrin have sued Johnson & Johnson, saying the packaging didn’t adequately explain the possible risks. The court case has drawn attention to the possible side effects of a drug most parents view as benign.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome isn’t something that most parents worry about, but it is a potential reaction which can lead to severe problems.

Side effect of the drug can include severe allergic reactions such as hives, facial swelling, asthma, shock, skin reddening, rash and blisters.

Sources:
Los Angeles Times July 18, 2008

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Drug Dilemma

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Anti epilepsy drugs if taken during pregnancy may raise the risk of birth defects:

A widely used anti epilepsy drug called topiramate raises the risk of birth defects as much as 14-fold when taken by pregnant women, especially in combination with another drug called valproate, say researchers.

However, the study involved only 203 women and thus there was still significant statistical uncertainty about it, they caution.

But the results are not surprising, they added, because the drug — sold by Johnson & Johnson under the brand name Topamax — has been shown to cause similar defects in animals. Other epilepsy drugs that have been studied have also been found to increase the risk of such defects, suggesting that the entire class of drugs may interfere with the reproductive process.

Despite the enormous risks, doctors say that epileptic women cannot stop taking the drugs during pregnancy because the seizures can also damage the unborn infant, perhaps even more severely.

But women who are taking the drug to prevent migraines should halt its use if they become pregnant or are planning to do so, said Dr John Craig of the Royal Group of Hospitals in Belfast, Northern Ireland, who led the research, published recently in Neurology.

Epilepsy is a disorder characterised by powerful seizures. Topamax accounts for about one in every five prescriptions for treating it.

Valproate, which is one of the most common drugs used in treating the problem, has previously been associated with birth defects or foetal death in about 20 per cent of women who take it.

Craig and his colleagues studied 203 women who became pregnant while taking topiramate either alone or in combination with other epilepsy drugs. Of the 203 pregnancies, 18 ended in spontaneous abortions, two in still births and five in induced abortions.

Of those born, 16 had major birth defects. Three of those were in mothers who had taken only topiramate and 13 in those who had taken it in combination with other drugs.

Four of the babies had cleft palates or lips, a rate 11 times higher than the normal rate of one in 500 expected among women not taking epilepsy drugs. Four male babies had genital birth defects, which is 14 times higher than the normal rate of one in 300.

The women in the study were part of the UK Epilepsy and Pregnancy Register, which was set up to determine the relative safety of such drugs.

Sources: Los Angles Times

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Do Arthritis Drugs Cause Cancer?

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating whether four drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other immune system diseases might increase the risk of cancer in children.

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The FDA has received reports of 30 cases of cancer among children and young adults treated with the drugs. The agency did not make clear how many children had taken the drugs.

The drugs involved are:

1. Enbrel, sold by Amgen and Wyeth
2. Remicade, sold by Johnson & Johnson and Schering-Plough
3. Humira, sold by Abbott Laboratories
4. Cimzia, sold by the Belgian company UCB

All of the drugs block a protein called tumor necrosis factor, and are therefore known as TNF-blockers. They are used to treat not only rheumatoid arthritis but also psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and other immune diseases.

Because the drugs block part of the immune system, it’s long been known that they might contribute to a higher risk of cancers and infections. The drugs’ labels contain warnings as such, including warning about a risk of lymphomas, which are cancers of immune system cells.

Among adults, meanwhile, one study found that those given Humira or Remicade to treat rheumatoid arthritis had 2.4 times the cancer rate of those in control groups.

Sources: New York Times June 5, 2008

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