When undergoing new medical treatments or taking a new prescription or over-the-counter medication, you might expect to experience some side effects as your body is altered and adjusts to the dosage. Typically, these side effects tend to be limited to headaches, nausea, and dizziness, as well as other mild symptoms, but in some rare cases, the symptoms can be much more severe, and in some cases even life-threatening. This is why it’s so important to read the fine print and familiarize yourself with the potential risks that you face when taking a new medication.
You might recognize the name of this medication from television commercials. Tepezza was a drug manufactured to treat thyroid eye disease (TED). A year after the drug was approved by the FDA, studies found that the manufacturer had lied about the severity of certain side effects, primarily the potential for hearing loss. The company reported a nearly 10% chance of experiencing hearing loss, while research yielded a 65% chance. Many users who fell into this percentage filed product liability lawsuits against the company for not fully disclosing the dangers of the medication to the FDA and potential consumers.
If you struggled with acne at all growing up, then you might be familiar with the prescription drug Accutane–either you took it yourself or might have had it suggested as an option. The drug was widely prescribed in the nearly thirty years that it was on the market until it was found to be linked to severe side effects. The drug put users at a higher risk for both inflammatory bowel disease and increased thoughts of suicide. The drug was also found to cause complications in pregnancies, including miscarriages. It was taken off the market in 2009, though generic versions are still being produced.
Nearly every person in the United States has heard of Ibuprofen, a popular anti-inflammatory drug used to treat pain and fevers. What you might not know, however, is that Ibuprofen has the potential to cause severe side effects like internal bleeding, ulcers, or holes in the esophagus. The popular pain relief drug hasn’t been recalled since the risk for these side effects is relatively low unless you’re using high doses of Ibuprofen on a regular basis–as was depicted in season four of Grey’s Anatomy, where a patient’s overuse of the drug led to her death.
If you’ve ever struggled with heartburn, then you’re likely familiar with Zantac. The drug had been around for nearly 40 years until it was recalled by the FDA in 2020, along with all of its generic reproductions. One of the drug’s main active ingredients, ranitidine, had been suspected to cause cancer. In addition to this, it was found that if the drug was not stored at certain temperatures, it could develop high levels of NDMA, a contaminant with is known to cause liver damage and is likely carcinogenic.
Anti-Depressants and Anti-Anxiety Medication
In 2022, thousands of bottles of the antidepressant Mirtazapine were recalled after a label mix-up with erectile dysfunction medication. A batch of a different kind of antidepressant was recently recalled after impurities were found in the formula. The fact that these recalls were caused by simple mistakes doesn’t mean that the medications themselves aren’t harmful. In fact, it could be argued that anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants are some of the most dangerous drugs on the market since they alter the brain chemistry of their users, and are accompanied by severe mental side effects.
Many of these types of drug users report that their mental illnesses are only amplified once they begin taking the medication. Patients who struggle with depression have reported more frequent self-harm and increased thoughts of depression since starting antidepressants, while patients who struggle with anxiety often report more commonly recurring panic attacks after starting anti-anxiety medication. Another dangerous side effect of these types of drugs is extreme nausea or lack of appetite. In some severe cases, users have reported going days without food because of how sick eating makes them. While these medications can cause some users to suffer while using them, sometimes getting off of the medication can be just as torturous. Some patients have reported an extreme spike in depression and suicidal thoughts when trying to stop taking their medication. Others have reported severe migraines and other pain.
While these medications do work for many people, they should be treated as a last resort. It might be best to research alternative methods for coping with depression or anxiety, like finding a therapist who can help you work through your trauma or anything else that is weighing on you emotionally.