MY DRUG safety feature (http://bit.ly/drugssafety) last week elicited a response in the comments section - suggesting the need to be a consumer activist to fight for what I believe in. This prompted me to create a Banned Medicines blog at http://bannedmedicine.tumblr.com/ and I started putting in chemical ingredients used in medicine that were banned or declared as unsafe by drug agencies abroad.

It will take a lot of effort to keep the site updated but I hope readers who are knowledgeable on topics such as these can give inputs that will allow me to post relevant information as necessary.

I have not received any response so far from Bayer (makers of Saridon) and Department of Health on what I wrote last week. (Just in case some of you are looking forward to their answer being featured here.)

In the process of creating the site, I encountered another active ingredient on which the DOH issued a warning in 2009 for its removal from drug store shelves - phenylpropanolamine (http://bit.ly/phenylpropanolamine). Based on studies, this chemical exposes its consumers to hemorrhagic stroke risk, especially women. Most of the medicines in this category have already reformulated their product except for Sinutab Extra Strength, which is still available over-the-counter.

I think pharmacies have a great responsibility to ensure that the products they are selling do not contain ingredients that put consumers at a greater health risk, especially over-the-counter medicines that have been re-classified as to be taken with care (therefore needing doctor’s prescription).

Newspapers with health sections can also allot a section where latest findings in drugs can also be tackled for the welfare of consumers. More than just disseminating what are the latest offerings in this area, proactive release of info on medicines to watch out for, especially if these banned medicines can easily enter the country, is helpful.

I will definitely support aspiring lawmakers who will take health matters seriously and ensure that banned medicine ingredients will be out of reach of consumers. Make pharmacies, entities, and individuals accountable if they sell these types of drugs.

Health care costs increase as you get older. It will be very sad if you later find out that your current ailment is due to medicines you have taken in the past that were supposedly banned in the first place.

(http://digitalfilipino.com)

Original article: Toral: Monitoring banned medicines
 
 
ONCE in a while, I receive SMS and email communication from various anonymous sources alerting me of scams, political messages and product commentaries. One text message that caught my attention in 2010 was about Saridon allegedly being unsafe, due to one of its ingredient, propyphenazone that may have side effects. I searched online but I was not able to find substantive info that would sufficiently contradict articles published at that time. I blogged about my findings and suggestions to Department of Health then at http://bit.ly/saridon.

In my presentation last to a pharmaceutical firm, I once again stumbled upon Saridon, this time for its ads. I found them to be humorous but not suggested for viewing by minors. I also commented on how various brands are using online and TV advertising to generate awareness and engagement. It also amused me on how they attack each other and make insinuation on the safety of competitor products. This is especially true for cough medicine. I blogged about this at http://bit.ly/medicinepromo.

However, this last blog post caught more attention than I expected. I got a private message saying my 2010 mention of propyphenazone safety as still an issue. Its Wikipedia entry said the ingredient is banned or restricted in some countries like Sri Lanka, Korea, Malaysia and Turkey.

Now I am more confused on this, especially on how medicines should be restricted on specific cases.

For instance, the website Filipino Doctor (http://saridon.thefilipinodoctor.com/faq.php) listed some information about the medicine and indicated pregnancy risk and intake prescription depending on age. The Saridon Wikipedia page cited an age ban for Korea, with those 15 years old and below not allowed to take the medication.

In its advertisements, which discuss how people who work hard may be subject to intense pain, safety concerns for pregnant women and young people should be communicated clearly, including in its Facebook fan page.

Maybe I am just naïve but it is unsettling to see a drug or its ingredient banned in other countries but allowed here and sold at a very affordable price.

I just hope the savings in terms of price will not lead to health issues because of uniformed people taking the medication.

To Bayer and Department of Health, I will very much appreciate more information about the propyphenazone ban in other countries and why it doesn’t apply in the Philippines. I will be happy to write a column about it if information is given.

(http://digitalfilipino.com)

Original article: Toral: Drug safety
 

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