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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Where were you when . . . ? The post looking at the question posed by Paul Berton, the editor-in-chief of The London Free Press, has been moved to my new blog. Please click on the link.

Thank you,
Cheers,
Rockinon

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Yesterday I blogged on the disgraceful situation which finds the powerful painkiller acetaminophen used in many over-the-counter preparations. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and Health Canada, here, are now both confronting the serious overdose problem presented by acetaminophen.

Both are concerned consumers are unaware of the increasing number of products which combine acetaminophen with other medications. This, it is feared, is resulting in acetaminophen overdoses in consumers taking a number of these combination drug products at the same time.

Acetaminophen is a painkiller found in a multitude of over-the-counter products, but abused it is a liver destroyer and even killer. As I pointed out yesterday, acetaminophen may well be the leading cause of liver failure in the United States.

As could have been expected, with the FDA considering controls, or even a ban, on combination products containing acetaminophen, the drug industry is rallying behind their products.

“We believe there is a clear public health benefit with OTC (over-the-counter) products containing acetaminophen,” said Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) President Linda Suydam, whose group represents Johnson & Johnson , Procter & Gamble and other makers of acetaminophen products.

Oh, give me a break.

It is time to take a careful look at over-the-counter medicines and maybe clean the drugstore shelves of quite a number of useless and/or dangerous products.

For instance:

Dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine: According to Ian Paul M.D. and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Penn State Children’s Hospital, “Our study showed that the two ingredients used in most over-the-counter medications were no better than a placebo non-medicated syrup in providing nighttime relief for children with cough and sleep difficulty as a result of upper respiratory infection.”

There are solid arguments against these two ingredients being included in adult cough medicines as well.

Phenylephrine: This is another dud. This is the ingredient replacing pseudoephedrine in many decongestant formulations. Because pseudoephedrine can be used in the illicit manufacture of crystal meth, this powerful decongestant is only available behind the counter in many places. Consumers may even have to sign for the product. Rather than control a powerful and effective drug, the drug companies are keeping their products visible by dumping the pseudoephedrine and substituting the legal, and possibly useless, phenylephrine.

Caffeine: Yes, caffeine is often used in OTC medicines. When I worked in a drugstore in my teens, and folk bought Anacin, the pharmacist would laugh. He said that Anacin at the time was nothing more than Aspirin and caffeine. He said one should simply wash down an Aspirin, or an ASA tablet to save even more money, with a cup of coffee.

Today there is Anacin Advanced. Personally, I cannot see much of an advance in mixing Aspirin with acetaminophen and caffeine.

Chlorpheniramine: This is one of the most commonly-used antihistamines. It has been around for decades. It works, for hay fever. How much good it is when used against the common cold is debatable. If you do want to try an antihistamine to fight your cold, maybe you should have the clear choice and not have the drug combined with other drugs which you may want to avoid.

Let’s look at one more common ingredient and wrap this up.

Guaifenesin: This ingredient is an expectorant. It increases the volume of fluid produced in the airways, supposedly cutting the thickness of the cold secretions. This makes it  easier to expel the phlegm from your body with productive coughing. Does it work? I don’t know. But, I personally, don’t use it. I stopped when I began to feel I was making more fluid but was not coughing it free.

No shotgun remedies

No shotgun remedies

Seek out products with only one ingredient. Know what you are taking. Don’t let drug abuse sneak up on you. Overdosing on drugs like acetaminophen is a serious matter. It could mean your life.


Cheers,
Rockinon

Contains acetaminophen 325 mg

Contains acetaminophen 325 mg

Addendum: No one is safe from combination medications, not even me. My wife had back pain and bought some Robaxacet. The tablets contain methocarbamol and, you guessed it, acetaminophen.

According to Wikipedia, Robax Platinum is the trade name for a formulation of methocarbamol and ibuprofen, Robaxisal is methocarbamol and aspirin, and Robaxacet, as we now know, is methocarbamol and acetaminophen.

If you want just one active ingredient, the muscle relaxant methocarbamol, you want Robaxin.

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Yesterday, Tuesday, June 30, 2009, a panel of health advisers in the United States recommended changes in the maximum allowed dosage of acetaminophen and in the drug’s availability, both over-the-counter and by prescription. These recommendations follow the May release of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report issued in response to the ongoing problem of liver damage and even death resulting from the improper use of the common pain reliever. According to the CBC, the Canadian government soon will be following the American lead in this matter.

Aspirin, caffeine, acetaminophen

Aspirin, caffeine, acetaminophen

Reportedly, acetaminophen is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Drink beer and wine? Not with acetaminophen you don’t. How about coffee? You shouldn’t. There’s evidence of a higher risk of liver toxicity when mixing acetaminophen with caffeine and/or alcohol.

Acetaminophen chlorpheniramine phenylephrine HCI

Acetaminophen chlorpheniramine phenylephrine HCI

The U.S. panel voted overwhelmingly to lower the maximum daily dose of nonprescription acetaminophen from the present level of 4000 mg, and to reduce the maximum single dose of over-the-counter acetaminophen to 650 mg from 1000 mg. They also voted to make 1000 mg strength doses of acetaminophen available only by prescription.

Where the panel caved was in voting against imposing restrictions on common over-the-counter shotgun remedies containing acetaminophen such as NyQuil or Theraflu.

Acetaminophen, chlorpheniramine maleate, dextromethorphan HBr, Phenylephrine HCl

Acetaminophen, chlorpheniramine maleate, dextromethorphan HBr, Phenylephrine HCl

My grandfather was pharmacist and he taught me from an early age to stay away from combination drug products. They were expensive, and worse, they were dangerous in his estimation.

Let’s say you are aware of the 4000 mg daily limit for acetaminophen. You are very careful to only take 4 1000 mg tabs of acetaminophen in a 24 hour period. It’s fairly easy as the bottle is clearly labelled, “Acetaminophen.” Unlike some, you realize that Tylenol is simply brand name acetaminophen. People pay dearly for the Tylenol name but it is still acetaminophen. You read the small print.

But, along with your backache, you also feel a cold coming on. You take a Coricidin D, a cold and flu tablet. It also contains acetaminophen. You have overdosed.

Acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, doxylamine, pseudoephedrine

Acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, doxylamine, pseudoephedrine

What are some of the other over-the-counter products which may contain acetaminophen? Try: Actifed, Alka-Seltzer, Anacin, Benadryl, Contac, Dimetapp, Dristan, Midol, NyQuil/DayQuil, Robitussin, Sinutab, Sudafed, Tavist, Triaminic, Vanquish and Vicks. Why do I say ‘may contain’? These products all come in different formulations and you must read the small print.

And we haven’t even touched on all the various prescription drugs containing acetaminophen. A quick google of the Internet turned up three dozen prescription products containing acetaminophen. Again, would you be aware of the acetaminophen? Do you read the fact sheets that come with your prescriptions? Lot’s don’t.

Let’s get rid of the shotgun approach. It’s expensive, often dangerous and sometimes ineffective, because the drugs in the mix may actually interfere with one another. Instead, we should be choosing the single-ingredient that effectively targets our symptoms.

This does not mean you can never take two drugs. Sometimes it is necessary but if you do, you will be fully aware of what you are doing. This should cut down on the overdosing so common today and make us all healthier.

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Old Bernie Madoff carries the right moniker, Madoff. Before surrendering, it was originally reported that Bernie made-off with 50 billion of his trusting clients’ money.

It now appears that Bloomberg.com and others have over-estimated Bernie’s accomplishments. Although it was claimed he controlled $50 billion, he may have had only about $17 billion in deposits. If he had invested it, he might have grown it, but he didn’t and it didn’t. Former SEC head Harvey Pitt said that Madoff “probably inflated the amount of money he had under management.” Pitt predicted the actual loss would fall below $17 billion.

How much is left? Hard to say. But there it could be as much as $825 million according to some reports.

Wait, Bernie only lost 95% of the money? That’s it! Hey, Edward Zore, Chief Executive Officer of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, said recently, “We have stocks in our portfolio that lost 95 per cent.” And do you remember Providian Financial? It lost 95% of its value amid a spectacular run of credit card defaults. Oops!

Investors who bought into the American mutual fund ProFunds UltraOTC,when it was at its peak and rode it down to its recent low, watched 95% of their wealth disappear. Will anyone go to jail? Of course not. This is legal. Losing money in the market is an everyday occurrence.

Silly Bernie just cut out the middle man and lost the money directly. Dumb. He could have invested the money, taken his well-earned bonuses for losing the investments and gotten on with his life.

Addendum:

For fun, I took a quick look at mutual funds. Check out this winner. Just think, if you had invested in this fund a decade ago, you would have Madoff like losses today.

A chart tracking Mavrix Growth, growth? Interesting use of the word.

A chart tracking Mavrix Growth, growth? Interesting use of the word.

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