We frequently look to them as remedies, but some are a bit more detrimental than helpful. Though legalized and distributed by health-care professionals, some prescription drugs are racked with adverse side effects. Using data gathered from the United States Food and Drug Administration, this article will cover the 10 most dangerous prescription drug pills. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the most toxic prescription drugs to our bodies, not the overall death count.
10. Metoclopramide In 1979, the FDA approved the name brand drug Reglan for the gastrointestinal disorders gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, and gastroparesis.
It wasn’t long after that the drug, which was meant to be used for short-term use of no longer than 3 months, started to show serious health risks. Patients taking the drug soon started to show symptoms of tardive dyskinesia, a neurological disorder signified by involuntary and repetitive body movements. Though TD was discovered in the 1950s, it’s believed that Reglan and metoclopramide was a leading cause of the long-term disorder since distribution.
In February of 2009, the FDA issued its strongest warning against metoclopramide.
9. Infliximab Meant to provide short and long-term treatment of Crohn’s disease and other inflammations, infliximab, otherwise known as the name brand Remicade, has been linked to an increased risk of cancers. Along with an incredibly high percentage of serious adverse reactions including labored breathing, joint pain, and pneumonia, 91% of the total number of reported reactions, patients receiving high doses of Remicade were more than 4 times more likely to develop various cancers.
Those associated with infliximab treatment include skin cancer, breast cancer, gastrointestinal tract cancers, and lung cancer.
8. Tacrolimus You may be aware of this fact, but organ transplant receivers need to take an immunosuppressant for the remainder of their life to keep their body from rejecting their new organ. One such drug, Tacrolimus – otherwise known as the brand name Prograf – was discovered in 1987 and earned FDA approval in 1994 for liver transplant patients. Its use has extended to a variety of transplants, but that may be a moot point if the drug winds up killing you instead.
In March of 2005, the FDA issued a warning based on animal testing and a small number of human patients that showed a potential cancer risk.
Though the cancer risk is still being evaluated, the drug has had an incredibly high ratio of serious reactions. Of the 30,262 reactions reported, 92% of them were deemed serious and included seizures, hallucinations, vomiting, and depression.
7. Zoledronic Acid Used to treat high blood calcium levels in patients with cancer, Zoledronic Acid may prove more detrimental in some patients. Overall, of the reactions reported, 93% were declared serious – but there may be an underlying concern with the use of Zoledronic Acid as a means of staving off breast cancer.
During a trial meant to prove the positive effects of Zoledronic Acid in breast cancer recurrence, it was found that the bisphosphonate had a significant negative effect on postmenopausal women. Though the manufacturer pulled the drug as an application for breast cancer risk reduction, it remains on the market in the form of Zometa and Reclast, with common side effects including coma, seizures, stupor, ulcers, and lethargy.
6. Dexamethasone Commonly used in the treatment of inflammation, the corticosteroid Dexamethasone – otherwise known as Decadron, Dekpak, Baycadron Elixer, and Dexpak – has an incredibly high percentage of serious reactions.
Of the 41,636 cases reported, just under 39,000 were deemed serious, and with side effects including irregular heartbeat, depression, aggression, anxiety, and difficulty thinking or speaking, such a high ratio may put off many patients.
Additional risks come into play with the prenatal use of Dexamethasone, which is occasionally used in invitro fertilization patients. While the steroid is used as a means to prevent miscarriage, it also crosses the placenta into the fetus, which may lead to possible infertility and cancer later in the child’s life.
5. Clozapine Crossing over the halfway point of these dangerous drugs, we start to see the extreme side of potential reactions.
Clozapine, an antipsychotic often used in schizophrenic patients to change chemical reactions in the brain, is a heavily debated drug with professionals both defending and speaking against its use.
What seems irrefutable, however, are the 29,470 serious reactions out of 30,914 reported cases. Of those issues reported, there were approximately 2,800 deaths – that’s just under 10% of the total number of reported reactions. While some studies show that the death rate among schizophrenics on Clozapine decreased by 26%, others showed an increased risk of death 1.6 times higher with the antipsychotic.
4. Rituximab With 31,157 reported reactions and 30,014 of those reported as serious, Rituximab – which is used in the treatment of leukemia, transplant rejection, and autoimmune disorders – has proven to be a potentially dangerous method of treatment. One may think that’s strange considering it’s been placed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. Of the many common adverse side effects, death topped the list with a total of 2,386 reported of the 30,014 serious reactions.
Among other commonly reported detrimental side effects were fatigue, dyspnea, anemia, and pyrexia.
3. Bevacizumab Avastin, less commonly known as Bevacizumab, is a treatment option for cancer patients known for halting the growth and spread of cancerous cells. Unfortunately, Avastin’s percentage of serious reactions is up to 96%. With 41,281 reactions reported, 39,957 were reportedly serious, and making up the highest number of serious reports is the rather definitive side effect of death. Just under 5,500 cases reportedly ended in death with 2,913 leading to progression of cancer instead of recession. A report released in September of 2016 claimed that Bevacizumab used for colorectal cancer was more detrimental than helpful.
2. Prednisolone Steroids are known for the many adverse effects that come with them, so it’s no surprise that Prednisolone, best known as Prelone and Veripred, made it onto a list of dangerous drugs.
With 43,817 reported reactions to Prednisolone, 42,323 of them were deemed serious and included just under 2,500 cases of pyrexia and just over 2,000 cases of pneumonia. Often used in the treatment of allergies, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, and psoriasis, prednisolone comes with additional side effects including aggression, limb numbness, depression, breathing difficulties, and unexpected weight gain.
1. Cyclophosphamide Known on the market as Cytoxan, Cyclophosphamide is an agent used in chemotherapy and, because it’s carcinogenic, comes with an increased risk of lymphoma, anorexia, leukemia, and skin cancer development, which earns it the most dangerous prescription drug currently on the market.
Other side effects associated with more serious reactions include febrile neutropenia or a fever developed in patients with a low number of white blood cells, sepsis, pneumonia, and anemia, while 70-90% of patients suffer severe nausea and vomiting. Patients administered Cytoxan may also experience painful urination, back and side pain, fever and dizziness, and joint pain.