A lot of people take prescription drugs that are associated with severe side effects. Actually, it has been estimated that more than half of American population regularly takes at least one type of prescription medication while more than 70% of Americans regularly take some kind of pharmaceutical drug. Ever wondered which one of them have severe side effects or may be dangerous in some cases?
Let’s begin with a short list of the medicines that are best to avoid at all costs, since they are among the worst possible pills you could take.
List of the Worst Pharmaceutical Drugs (With Most Side Effects)
Vicodin and Oxycontin
Among the most dangerous prescription pharmaceutical drugs are Vicodin and Oxycontin. These drugs do not have the worst adverse effects comparing to other prescription drugs but they are the most abused because of their availability. Many people take Vicodin and Oxycontin with alcohol, which is a lethal combination. Also, many of those who abuse these prescription drugs exceed recommended dose and instead of 1 or 2 pills take 4 or more pills at a time.
Vioxx is the drug for treatment of osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps and severe pain in adults. Vioxx was approved by the FDA in ’99 but it was taken off the market in ’04 because it caused dangerous heart problems. It was noticed that the people who took Vioxx had increased risk for heart attacks and many people actually died due to heart attacked caused by Vioxx. Even though the FDA has banned this drug, it can still be illegally found online.
It’s asthma medicine that could make your asthma deadly. Advair contains the long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) salmeterol. Because salmeterol is more widely prescribed than other LABAs, the danger is greater — the researchers estimate that salmeterol may contribute to as many as 5,000 asthma-related deaths in the United States each year.
Prozac is an antidepressant that may actually make you feel worse. Prozac entails side effects such as insomnia, nausea, weakness, diarrhea, headache, anxiety, drowsiness, dry mouth, decreased libido, indigestion, sweating, flushing, constipation, gas, hypertension, chest pain, weight gain, and taste changes.
Mirapex is used for treating Parkinson’s disease. Side effect of Mirax is amnesia that people usually experience when take it. Cholesterol medication called Lipitor is also associated with amnesia.
Diabetes is destructive enough on its own, but if you try to control it with rosiglitazone — better known by the brand name Avandia — you could be headed for a heart attack. While there have been some reports that Avandia use may cause dangerous fluid retention or raise artery-clogging LDL cholesterol, no one is sure if these are the culprits.
Evamist is a drug for dealing with the symptoms of menopause. But EvaMist includes adverse effects such as cancer, stroke, heart attack, blood cloths and dementia.
Once nicknamed “super aspirin“, Celebrex is now better known for its side effects than for its pain-relieving prowess. The drug has been linked to increased risks of stomach bleeding, kidney trouble, and liver damage.
This drug is designed to help with quitting smoking but it causes suicidal ideas and it has lead many people to commit suicide.
Most bacteria in the lungs and sinuses don’t stand a chance against Ketek, but you might not either. This antibiotic, which has traditionally been prescribed for respiratory-tract infections, carries a higher risk of severe liver side effects than similar antibiotics do. Ketek can cause heart-rhythm problems, can lead to liver disease, and could interact poorly with other medications you may be taking. Unfortunately, it’s still available, and although many doctors are aware of the risks, some may still prescribe it without caution.
Plavix is a blood thinning drug given to prevent heart attack but it may cause people to vomit blood.
Prilosec and Nexium
Heartburn can be uncomfortable, but heart attacks can be fatal, which is why the FDA has investigated a suspected link between cardiac trouble and the acid-reflux remedies Prilosec and Nexium. Because Prilosec and Nexium are proton-pump inhibitors, they are both incredibly effective at stopping acid production in the stomach — perhaps too effective. A lack of acid may raise your risk of pneumonia, because the same stuff that makes your chest feel as if it’s burning also kills incoming bacteria and viruses. You may also have an elevated risk of bone loss — in the less acidic environment, certain forms of calcium may not be absorbed effectively during digestion.
This decongestant can also be turned into methamphetamine. People with heart disease or hypertension should watch out for any legitimate drug that contains pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine doesn’t just constrict the blood vessels in your nose and sinuses, but it can also raise blood pressure and heart rate, setting the stage for vascular catastrophe. Over the years, pseudoephedrine has been linked to heart attacks and strokes. Pseudoephedrine can also worsen symptoms of benign prostate disease and glaucoma.
The most addictive drugs on the market are Vicodin and Oxycontin and that is way they usually lead to death. Drugs such as Percocet, Darvocet, Ritalin and any amphetamine are also highly addictive.
Medications Not To Take in Heart Failure
Some types of medications, including those used to treat heart and blood vessel disease, can actually make your heart failure symptoms worse or interfere with important parts of your heart failure treatment. These include common pain-relieving drugs (Aspirin, Advil and others) that many women would not think twice about taking for minor pain or headaches.
People with heart failure are often treated with a combination of several types of drugs to maintain the heart’s pumping ability and minimize symptoms. The more drugs you are taking, the higher the risk of a harmful drug-drug interaction. Working with your doctor to make sure you know what medications you are taking, what they do, and what precautions you should take will help you avoid unpleasant or even dangerous side effects.
Below is a list of medications that should generally be avoided in women with heart failure. Don’t start taking any new medications without discussing them with your heart failure doctor. If you are taking any of these medications because a doctor prescribed it, ask your heart failure doctor if it is safe to continue using (never stop taking any medication without talking to your doctor first).
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
- Aspirin (unless your doctor has prescribed a low-dose aspirin regimen)
- COX-2 inhibitors such as the arthritis drug celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Why not to take these?: These drugs can cause your body to retain salt and water and cause the arteries in your legs and arms to constrict, worsening fluid buildup and swelling. They can also interfere with other heart failure medications such as diuretics. Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is a common cause of hospitalization for heart failure.
- Alternative Medication: For relief of aches, pains, or fever, take acetaminophen (Tylenol or Panadol).
- Most antiarrhythmic (heart rhythm) drugs
- Class I (sodium channel blockers) and some class III (potassium channel blockers) antiarrhythmic drugs should be avoided in women with heart failure.
- Exceptions: amiodarone and dofeditilide (Tikosyn) are the only two available heart rhythm drugs that have been shown not to lower the odds of survival in women with heart failure.2
- Why not to take these?: Antiarrythmic drugs can slow the heart rate, worsening heart failure symptoms, and can even make heart rhythm problems more likely.
- Alternative Medication: There are a few kinds of heart rhythm drugs that can be used in women with heart failure if necessary. For women with potentially dangerous heart rhythm problems, implantation of an ICD or pacemaker may also be an option.
- Antacids that contain Sodium (salt):To relieve heartburn or indigestion.
- Why not to take these?: Just like eating salty foods, sodium from medications can cause your body to retain fluid, making swelling and shortness of breath worse and raising blood pressure.
- Alternative Medication: Some companies produce low-sodium antacids. Look at the ingredients list and warning statements to see if sodium is listed (companies are required to put it on the label if there are 5 mg or more of sodium per dose). If you are not sure, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Medications Not To Take in Chronic Kidney Disease
Medicines and other substances to not take when you have kidney disease:
- NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) such as Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), Naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), Aspirin (unless prescribed by your heart doctor); Often included in over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough remedies. Check list of ingredients on label.
- Decongestants used for cold symptoms such as Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) if you have high blood pressure/hypertension.
- Antacids and laxatives with magnesium, phosphorus and aluminum such as Mylanta, Milk of Magnesium, Amphogel, Fleets products.
- Alka Seltzer or baking soda/”bubbling” products for indigestion.
- Herbal medicines and remedies.
- Some vitamin and diet/food supplements.
- Contrast dye studies such as CT scans or MRI scans with contrast – Alert doctors and nurses that you have kidney disease if you go to the Emergency Room (ER) or go to see another doctor.
- Salt substitutes since they contain potassium.
Alternatives that you can take when you have kidney disease:
- For pain: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or products containing Tylenol (as long as you do not exceed the recommended total daily dosage listed on the medicine label).
- For stuffy nose/cold symptoms: try saline nose drops/spray.
- For indigestion, try Prilosec OTC (over the counter).
- For constipation, start with stool softeners, can use Miralax if needed.
- For seasoning of foods, can use fresh herbs, pepper, onions, garlic, Mrs. Dash or lemon or lime juice.
Medications Not To Take in Case of Asthma
What medications should you avoid in this case?
Certain medications are likely to trigger an asthmatic attack. A group of drugs which should be strictly avoided by asthmatic sufferers are beta-blockers. Beta-blockers are used to treat high blood pressure, some forms of heart disease, migraine headaches, glaucoma and to prevent cardiovascular disease. They may also be used in hyperactive thyroid disorders.
Sometimes beta-blockers are prescribed when you have no obvious asthmatic symptoms, and then you subsequently develop asthmatic symptoms while on this medication. In such a case, the potential for asthma had been present, but it required a beta-blocker to bring it out. If you require beta-blockers, you should consult your asthma specialists regarding this matter.
Another group of anti-hypertensive medications called ACE inhibitors (e.g.Vasotec, Capoten) also may cause you to cough and should be avoided if an acceptable alternative is available.
A minority of asthmatic individuals have a worsening of symptoms if they take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Advil, Motrin and Naprosyn). Aspirin hypersensitivity is suspected in asthmatic individuals with chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps. If you need to know whether you are aspirin sensitive, an aspirin challenge can be performed under controlled conditions.
There are other circumstances in which medications used for asthma may interact with medications prescribed for other conditions. These drug interactions can best be avoided by reviewing all of your medications with your asthma specialist during your doctor visits.
Medications Not To Take When Breastfeeding
There is a lot of contradicting information about what medications are safe to take while breast feeding or not. Even some over the counter medicines can have a dramatic affect on the quantity, quality and taste of your breast milk, not to mention the potential hazardous properties. Here is a list of common medications that have breastfeeding contradictions and the reasons to avoid them:
- Antibacterials – These are on the list as a caution. Some are safe many cause diarrhea, thrush, rash, bloody stools, or other problems.
- Antidepressants – Drowsiness is the most common effect on your child. Avoid ones with phenelzine and tranylcypromine.
- Antifungals – The ingredient ketoconazole poses risk for liver damage.
- Antihistamines – May reduce your breast milk supply and cause drowsiness or fussiness in your child. Be especially careful to avoid cetirizine.
- Anti-inflammatory – Ibuprofen is generally safe, many others are unsafe for children under one year due to increased risk of Reyes Syndrome.
- Amantadine Symmetrel – Used to treat the flu or Parkinson’s disease; may reduce milk supply.
- Amiodarone Cordarone – Used to treat heart problems.
- Antilipemics (excluding resins) – Lescol, Lipitor, Lopid, Mevacor, Pravacor, Zocor – Used to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood.
- Antineoplastic agents – Used to treat cancer.
- Aspirin (large doses) – Used to treat arthritis.
- Chlorampenicol – Used to treat serious infections.
- Clozapine Clozaril – Used to treat schizophrenia.
- Dipyrone (dipirona in Mexican drugs) – Used for pain and inflammation.
- Gold Salts Myochrysine – Used to treat arthritis.
- Iodide products – Betadine, potassium iodide – Used for douching or as an expectorant.
- Lipid-lowering drugs – Lescol, Lipitor, Lopid, Mevacor, Pravacor, Zocor – Used to lower the level of fats in the blood.
- Metamizole (Dipyrone) – Analgesic/anti-inflammatory. Banned in U.S. but available in Mexico.
- Aspirin – Can cause Reyes syndrome and bleeding.
- Chemotherapy - Very toxic to breastfeeding children, even in small amounts.
- Decongestants – Oral decongestants can cause fussiness in your child.
- Diuretics – Can suppress your lactation and reduce breast milk supply.
- Heart and blood pressure medication – Most seem safe but ones with acebutolol, atenolol, nadolol, sotalol, or timolol may accumulate to toxic levels in your babies blood.
- Hormones – Hormone contraceptives can interfere with lactation and breast milk production if taken in the first 6 weeks after pregnancy.
- Narcotics – If given during labor they may inhibit lactation. Can cause drowsiness in nursing babies.
- Pepto-Bismol - Salicylates ingredients cause an increased risk of Reyes Syndrome and can be toxic to nursing babies.
- Tranquilizers – May make your child very sleepy, avoid any with clozapine which can decrease white blood count.
These drugs are not safe for breastfeeding moms. Ask your physician if there is a safer alternative medication. If you must take them for health reasons, you should stop breastfeeding — either temporarily or permanently — depending on how long you need to take them.
This is by no means a comprehensive or exhaustive list of medicines to avoid while breastfeeding. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any of them while you are breastfeeding.
Medications Not To Take When Pregnant
While some drugs are permitted during pregnancy, for others the side effects on the fetus are not known yet. It is therefore very important to be aware of drugs that are administered during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy, a very important time of fetal development.
If pregnant women take drugs before getting pregnant, it is important to consult their doctor about the effects on the fetus continued therapy. Your doctor will assess the risks of the mother and fetus when prescribing a particular drug. These may turn into birth defects and baby development issues. In some diseases, the risk of stopping the therapy can be much greater than the risk of continuing the therapy.
Pregnancy drug labeling divides pharmaceutical pills into 5 groups/categories: A, B, C, D, X.
- Group A - includes the thyroid drug levothyroxine, which shows no recorded problems for babies in human studies.
- Group B – includes the pain reliever Tylenol (acetaminophen), antibiotics such as amoxicillin, the nausea drug Zofran (ondansetron) and some insulins for diabetes, which show no evidence of risk in humans. (While animal studies either showed no risk or small risk, human studies showed none.) Examples of problems related to Group B drugs include a very small increased risk of complications, such as pre-eclampsia or stillbirth. These drugs are still considered safe during pregnancy.
- Group C - includes the yeast infection drug Diflucan (fluconazole), Ventolin (albuterol) for asthma, and the drugs Zoloft (sertraline) and Prozac (fluoxetine) for depression. Risks from Group C drugs cannot be ruled out, based on no available human studies and scant or negative studies on animals. Problems associated with this class of medications include slightly smaller birth weights and possible withdrawal symptoms in the baby after birth. However, the benefits of the drug to mother and infant may outweigh the risks.
- Group D - includes Eskalith or Lithobid (lithium) for bipolar disorder, the epilepsy drug Dilantin (phenytoin), and some cancer chemotherapies that show some problems for babies in human studies, including heart defects and other malformations. But again, the benefits may outweigh the risks.
- Group X - includes the cystic acne drugs: Accutane (isotretinoin) and Thalomid (thalidomide) for multiple myeloma and other conditions, which shows major risks to babies. Accutane, for instance, can cause heart defects, mental retardation, or abnormal head and brain size in infants, whereas thalidomide is associated with severe malformations, such as missing limbs. These prescription drugs should not be taken during pregnancy.