The safety of pharmaceuticals is always a looming concern, even when they have been approved by the FDA. Over the years, some drugs have been taken off the market because they had serious side effects or simply didn’t work. While some withdrawn medications have ready alternatives, others may not be so easy to replace. Here are four drugs withdrawn for safety reasons, and the alternatives to them.
Rozerem was taken out of circulation due to fears that it could cause liver damage in some patients. Prescribed as a sleep aid, it had been found to increase certain enzymes in the liver that could cause injury and, in certain cases, even death. As an alternative, doctors may recommend melatonin supplements or natural sleep aids such as valerian root or chamomile tea, or a combination of glycine, the amino acid, and Vitamin B6. All of these alternatives have fewer risks and fewer side effects than Rozerem did when it was on the market.
Accutane is another withdrawn drug with many potential side effects associated with it, including depression, birth defects, and eye damage (as well as severe back pain in rare cases). Accutane was primarily used to treat acne. Alternatives in the form of topical retinoids, e.g. tretinoin or adapalene, can be used for treating mild to moderate acne with fewer associated risks than Accutane taken orally.
Vioxx, a pain medication aimed at arthritis sufferers, was voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer due to its association with increased risk of heart attack and stroke when taken long-term. Alternatives such as ibuprofen or naproxen are now used instead, as they don’t carry the same risks as Vioxx. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, ibuprofen and naproxen should be taken at lower than normal doses, since they can still increase your risk of cardiovascular complications if taken at higher doses for a long period of time.
Finally, Fen Phen was an anti-obesity drug taken off the market because short-term use had been linked to pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs) along with other serious side effects, such as heart valve damage or stroke, if taken long-term. Moderate dieting remains one of the best alternatives for people who need help losing weight safely without risk of developing pulmonary hypertension or another life-threatening medical condition. Naturally, exercise can boost metabolism while strengthening muscles and bones, and a health-minded eating plan is another good idea if you want to achieve their weight-loss goals without taking potentially dangerous medications like Fen Phen.
In summary, there are several alternatives available for drugs withdrawn from circulation by manufacturers because of safety concerns. Please do your research before you use any new medication, supplement, herb, or any other substance. Know exactly what you’re putting in your body and always discuss the available options with your doctor before using anything new. Know ‘what’, but also know ‘what else’ in order to stay safe on your journey to better health.