Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ban on Popular Pain Killers

A federal advisory panel to the FDA is advising a ban on Vicodin and Percocet, two of the most widely used pain killers in the world. The vote made yesterday stems from concerns that use of the drugs cause irreparable liver damage. The combination of a narcotic with acetominophen, or Tylenol, is the problem. Since people in chronic pain end up having to take higher and higher doses of these drugs over time in order to get the same results, they put themselves at risk of overdose and liver failure.

In 2005, American consumers bought 28 billion doses of products containing [acetominophen].While the medicine is effective in treating headaches and reducing fevers, even recommended doses can cause liver damage in some people. And more than 400 people die and 42,000 are hospitalized every year in the United States from overdoses.

The panel conducted 11 votes in total, including one that suggesting a ban on all combination products that includes acetominophen. The panel voted against that ban, saying that consumers saw the products as valuable. My question is, isn't it their job to ensure that the products are safe? Consumer trends should not dictate whether or not a drug would be allowed on the market, considering that popular products usually become popular due to factors such as marketing and advertising, as opposed to safety and efficacy.

Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in the treatment of pain and has little to no side effects. It is generally affordable and can be administered in virtually any setting. Next time you throw out your back, try acupuncture!

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