FDA Issues Alert on Popular Heart Drug

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pillsWhat if there was a medicine you could take that would double your risk of death? You likely wouldn’t want to take it and you would think the FDA would remove it from pharmacies. But, you would be wrong on the second account. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning for the popular heart drug Multaq, and despite the drug increasing the risk of death significantly, it’s still available.

Multaq is a prescription drug solution for people with atrial fibrillation(AF), or irregular contractions (arrhythmias) in the upper chambers of the heart. People who have paroxysmal (intermittent) AF, persistent AF, and atrial flutter are often prescribed the pharmaceutical. But no longer should people with permanent AF be given the drug, according to the FDA.

A clinical trial known as PALLAS was cut short when researchers discovered patients with permanent AF on Multaq had double the risk of death, stroke, and heart failure. The clinical trials were stopped. But Multaq remained on the shelves. This was only the latest in Multaq’s dangerous history.

As WebMD reports, in 2010 the FDA warned people on Multaq of the increased risk of congestive heart failure, adding that warning to the drug’s label in 2011. In the second quarter of 2010, the FDA warned users of Multaq again, this time that it could increase their risk of a certain type of arrhythmia called torsade de pointes. Later in 2010, the FDA warned against drug interactions between Multaq and Warfarin,  and the possible link between the drug and liver failure.

Sounds like a great healer right?

The FDA’s latest warning can be seen directly on the Multaq website, that the drug intended for atrial fibrillation should not be taken by people with permanent atrial fibrillation, along with the laundry list of other dangers, side effects, and potential drug interactions.

Prescription drugs are going to have side effects. Many of them alter the body’s chemistry in ways that aren’t even completely understood. But when a drug increases the risk of death in the very people it was designed to help, we have to question why it’s still in existence.

It would be naïve to think the FDA has only our health in mind, because if that were the case the drug would have been gone after the first several warnings. Instead, the story of Multaq is just another example of the federal regulatory agencies being in cahoots with Big Pharma.

Additional Sources:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute