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Friday, May 25, 2007



Several days ago it was reported that individuals who were taking the drug, Avandia, had an increased risk of dying of heart disease. The drug companies who are legally bound to report adverse reactions to their drugs did indeed report such results to the FDA who has known this information since last November, some 6 months ago, but has done nothing about it. This hits a delicate spot within me because of what happened to my mother.

My mother had been taking a drug called DBI made by the drug company, U S Vitamin. At the time when DBI was introduced into the market, it was considered one of the best drugs which had been discovered to control blood sugar in late onset diabetics. I was living in Bethesda, Maryland, at the time when I was working at the National Institutes of Health. My mother was living in Salem, MA. As was my custom every Thursday evening, I telephoned my mother. She asked that I come to see her in Salem the following evening. I told her I could not because I had some very important experiments in the laboratory that required my attention. She retorted: you will come tomorrow evening and that is final. As was also my custom, when my mother spoke in such a way, I knew it was important and I responded that I would be there the following evening.

I knew my mother had not been feeling well for a couple of months but I had no idea how sick, for when I opened the door to enter the house, I almost did not recognize my mother who appeared 20 years older than when I last saw her three months before. I telephoned her physician who informed me that my mother was dying of a strange cardiomyopathy (a degeneration of the cardiac muscle characterized by a ballooning of the heart because it was failing). They were doing all they could but nothing seemed to be working.

My mother gave me instructions on what I was to do with her affairs should she die, this being the real reason why she ordered me to come home. You see, I was the first born son in an Italian family, and there were certain things expected of me. I returned to Bethesda on Sunday evening. My mother died very early Tuesday morning on the couch where she fell asleep watching TV knitting the night before.

Why the story? Within one year of my mothers death DBI was taken off the market because it was discovered that some so-called sensitive individuals taking DBI died of an unexplained cardiomyopathy.

Folks, many drugs are dangerous. For instance, one salesperson was trying to prove to me the relative benefits of a new drug to replace phenobarbital, a relaxing drug sometimes used for children prone to convulsions. My argument was why should I change from a drug I knew was extremely safe to one, although tested before it was able to get FDA approval, did not stand up to the long test of time of phenobarbital?

The reality is that drug companies are constantly developing new drugs to replace older ones. Not to be paranoid, I believe the impetus for such new developments is the fact that after a period of time patents run out and new drugs must be provided to eliminate the competition and maintain the financial edge and to preserve profits. Ordinarily drugs are tested in the neighborhood of several ten of thousands of individuals to determine safety, efficacy, and potency. After a drug is released, the users of a drug may easily reach millions. A potential reaction of low incidence may not show up until a drug is in full use.

It is important to note that drugs are not all bad, but their use must be weighed each time they are prescribed. All drugs are potentially dangerous. They are foreign chemicals with physiological effects not normal for the human body. The toxic properties of drugs should always be weighed against the potential effect upon controlling a disease process. When a person has multiple disease conditions, then evaluation of the use of a drug becomes even more difficult. A drug may improve one condition while having a potential adverse reaction to another. An individual who has both diabetes and a heart problem has to be doubly concerned. A drug like Avandia, given to control the diabetes might not be good to use in an individual with a pre existing heart problem.

On my medical web site I discuss the dangers of taking Statin drugs because their use interferes with the metabolism of CoQ10 an important vitamin like substance required for proper functioning of skeletal and cardiac muscle among other things. A large number of individuals taking Station drugs develop cardiac failure caused by their use. My cardiologist friends think I am a quack preaching the ills of taking Statins. My response to them is that they should not criticize me because they do not know. My approach is not very conducive to making friends.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.


Anonymous Kim said...

Helped me lot… thanks for such a informative article

June 18, 2007 at 10:33 AM  

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