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Finding Better Alternatives to Vioxx and Other Common Harmful Drugs

by Dr. Stephen Gangemi on November 21, 2004

Just last Thursday, (November 18, 2004), 39 law firms met at a café to vie for one of just two lucky spots to represent Merck in their forthcoming Vioxx woes. Vioxx is a prescription COX-2 selective, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that has been on the market since 1999. Its primary uses were for the relief of osteoarthritis symptoms, pain management, and menstrual tension symptoms. It was later approved for the relief of the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in adults and children. Although problems were seen soon after the drug was introduced, public awareness that the drugs increase the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke, has just recently been revealed.

Soon after, Celebrex, another COX-2 inhibitor, was looked into and now a similar derivative, Bextra, is under investigation by the government. Public confusion has begun as people don’t know what to believe. One day they are told a medication is okay, the next day questions arise regarding their safety. It’s important to understand that COX-2 inhibitors are much heavy-duty NSAIDs, though “more specific”. Although they protect the stomach lining more than other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and aspirin, they have the ability to cause significant damage and harm. This is not new news by any means. Rather than wait to see if your COX-2 drug is deemed safe by the FDA or group of lobbyists, take your health into your own hands. I have written a great deal about NSAIDs, the harm they cause, and their natural alternatives. I recently wrote two detailed articles, Inflammation Information Part I, and yes, you guessed it, Inflammation Information Part II in the Articles section of this site. Reading those should provide you with the information you need. Also note that NSAID benefits are all about proper fatty acid metabolism, such as Omega 3 and 6 fats and the avoidance of partially hydrogenated “trans” fats. So make sure you read about hydrogenated fats in Health Topics if you haven’t already.

Along side Bextra, four other drugs have been named as having questionable safety concerns.

Accutane is an acne medication that has been linked to birth defects and fetal death when used by pregnant women. I remember my dermatologist wanting to put me on this stuff when I was a teenager. Luckily my mom was wise enough to turn it down, especially after seeing all the side effects. Acne is most commonly a digestive and/or hormonal issue as the liver tries to break down toxins (from a poor diet) and hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. Therefore, we treat acne naturally by investigating digestive problems, such as food allergies, dysbiosis (yeast, bacteria, parasites) and by balancing hormones and aiding liver detoxification.

Crestor is an anti-cholesterol drug linked to renal failure and other side effects. The drug companies are saying the alternatives are other statin medications such as Lipitor, Lescol, Pravachol, Mevacor and Zocor. I strongly recommend you check out the LipoScience web site and their NMR LipoProfile. This is a revolutionary lab test that takes an in-depth look into what makes up your individual cholesterol particles. All statin drugs have numerous risk factors. Don’t think you’re safe because you have switched from Crestor to one of the others. Check out what I have to say about cholesterol.

Serevent, an asthma treatment drug, is now said to cause deaths due to asthma. FDA reviewer David Graham states, “We’ve got case reports of people dying, clutching their Serevent inhaler, but Serevent is still on the market.” For this one, I direct you to my two articles on asthma: “Breathe Better: Understanding Asthma” and “Taking the Breath Out of Asthma”. Asthma is commonly NOT a lung problem, but a lung symptom. You’ll see why after reading the articles.

Last is Meridia, the weight-loss drug. This medication has been shown to greatly increase blood pressure and stroke, and that doesn’t outweigh (no pun intended) the weight loss it provides. So much to say on this one – diet, hormones, exercise – it’s the full package if you’ve got a weight issue. Time to look into why you may be gaining weight or can’t get the weight off.

I'm a board certified chiropractic physician and clinical nutritionist with a passion for true natural health care. I implement dietary & nutritional therapies, exercise & movement practices, and lifestyle changes along with manual therapy techniques to help the body heal and prevent illness and injuries.

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