Philadelphia and New Jersey made national headlines last month as scientists questioned whether the vast amount of pharmaceutical drugs found in our water supply could have long term effects on health and wellness. Now, new studies show “abnormal behavior” in human cells and wildlife after exposure to the same prescription drugs that we are consuming on a daily basis.
Locally, Philadelphia was found to have 56 different pharmaceutical contaminants (including medicine for pain, epilepsy, heart problems and mental illness), while water supplies in North Jersey were found to have significant amounts of metabolized angina medicine and psychiatric drugs.
Researchers believe the drugs entered the water supply through human waste. Apparently, when people take prescription drugs, whatever is not absorbed by the body is naturally eliminated and flushed down the toilet. And, although water is treated before public use, most treatments fail to completely remove pharmaceutical drug residue.
While health officials continue to insist that the amount of prescription drugs found in public water supplies are too small to have a therapeutic effect; they do not, however, dismiss the fact that frequent consumption of contaminated water can have long term health effects. EPA administrator, Benjamin Grumbles says that the situation is a “growing concern” and that they are taking these findings “very seriously.”
Furthermore, while it is too early to track the long-term effects of pharmaceutical contaminants in drinking water, scientists have
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Pharmaceutical giant, Merck, has come under investigation yet again- this time concerning the asthma and allegory drug Singular. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced on March 27th that it will be working with Merck to determine if there is link between Merck’s asthma and allergy drug, Singular, and suicide. Singular is marketed as a drug used to treat asthma and the symptoms associated with allergies such as sneezing, runny nose and itching of nose. The drug is also known to be used to prevent exercise induced asthma.
The FDA was moved to begin the investigation after receiving numerous reports of mood and behavior changes, suicidal thinking and actual cases of suicide that were reported in several patients who took the drug.
Located in Whitehouse, New Jersey, Merck is the same the pharmaceutical company who brought the drug Vioxx to the public. Vioxx was removed from shelves after the company admitted that the medication was linked to heart attacks and strokes in thousands of people. This past summer, Merck agreed to pay 4.8 billion in settlements for patients who had documented injuries linked to the drug.
Ironically, this settlement seemed to be a bargain to Merck as Vioxx accounted for 2.5 billion of Merck’s 2003 profits and many billions of dollars over the life of the drug. Merck was forced to pull the Vioxx off the market in 2004 after its own studies showed that the pain killer doubled the risk of heart attack when taken for at least 18 months.
Similarly, the drug Singular, has accounted for 4.3 billion dollars of Merck’s sales last year. The FDA has asked the company to do a deeper analysis into its data and disclose any possible links to suicide. Merck’s officials have agreed to cooperate in the investigation.
In the meantime, patients that are currently using Singular should monitor and document any unfavorable side effects associated with its usage. In addition, if you are a patient currently experiencing suicidal thoughts or behavioral changes, contact your doctor immediately to discuss alternative treatment options.
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There’s good news for Vioxx patients. It seems that cardiovascular risks decline when patients stop taking the drug.
Merck continued its 3 year Vioxx study for a 4th year.
Those fourth-year results, as analyzed by Merck and released yesterday, showed that former Vioxx and placebo users reported a nearly similar rate of cardiovascular events. Among 2,178 patients, 28 formerly on Vioxx and 16 formerly on placebo suffered confirmed thrombotic cardiovascular events. An undisclosed number died.
Peter S. Kim, head of West Point-based Merck Research Laboratories, said the 28-to-16 difference is not statistically significant and might be due as much to chance as to the drug itself.
Merck recalled the drug on 9/30/2004 after study data suggested that Vioxx increased risk of heart attack and stroke in people taking it longer than 18 months.
Merck faces at least 11,500 personal injury lawsuits and 190 class action lawsuits. The company is now 50/50, having won 3 and lost 3 trials.
Source: Philly.com (Subscription required)
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