I have to admit that I was very surprised when the popular pain-killer Vioxx was banned several years ago due to it’s increased risk of stroke and heart attacks. I wasn’t surprised by the fact that there was more research proving a link between pain killers and heart attacks. There has been considerable research on this for well over a decade.
What really surprised me back then was that Vioxx was the only painkiller taken off the market because many other painkillers were shown to be equally as dangerous as Vioxx.
Now new research raises questions why some commonly used pain killers have not been banned due to dangerous side-effects…
Australian and Canadian researchers analysed 51 studies of various commonly used pain medications and assessed the risk of certain side-effects. They found that taking the popular Voltaren (diclofenac) medication increases the risk of preventable heart attacks by 40%. This is the same increased risk caused by the banned Vioxx medication.
So why isn’t Voltaren and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) banned?
One of the head researchers of this study, Professor David Henry gave this blunt reply… ” Drug regulatory agencies around the world have known this information for quite a long time and have not taken action against the drug. So I think it’s time for doctors and patients to make up their own mind.”
Professor Henry also stated that the commonly used gout medication indomethacin (Indosid) should also be withdrawn from the market because of its heart attack risk.
Of the other main painkillers on the market Ibuprofen (marketed as Nurofen and Brufen) did not show an increased risk when consuming less than 1200 mg, but consuming amounts 1600mg or higher increased your heart attack risk sharply. Naprosyn (naproxen) was found to have the least amount of risk to your heart.
A spokesperson for the Therapeutic Goods Association of Australia said that the adverse effects of these medicines are being monitored and that people who experience side-effects should report them to their doctor and their association. (That’s right, let them know if you manage to survive your next heart attack!)
It’s not just heart attacks that you have to be aware of when taking anti-inflammatories. These medications are the most common cause of drug-related hospitalisations in the USA with about 20 000 deaths occurring each year from NSAID-induced ulcer complications. Every year 2.5 million Americans experience kidney problems due to anti-inflammatories.
It is beyond belief that these medications continue to be handed out to everyone (including babies) for every little niggle especially when there are simple,effective ways to reduce pain and inflammation that are completely safe.