A cause of side effects.

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Most drugs contain inactive ingredients that are capable of causing an adverse reaction, according to investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the U.S.

These otherwise unnecessary ingredients are usually added to improve a pill’s colour or shelf-life, but the study authors found more than 92 per cent of the 42,052 oral medications tested contained at least one ingredient that can cause reactions in sensitive individuals.

Around 45 per cent contained lactose and 33 per cent had a food dye.

This raises questions about how medications are labelled.

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    What are you supposed to take in it's place? So called natural herbals are unregulated because they do nothing.

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    • Posted

      Are they not regulated in America ?

      New European Union rules(2011) have come into force banning hundreds of traditional herbal remedies.

      The EU law aims to protect consumers from possible damaging side-effects of over-the-counter herbal medicines.

      For the first time, new regulations will allow only long-established and quality-controlled medicines to be sold.

      But both herbal remedy practitioners and manufacturers fear they could be forced out of business.

      To date, the industry has been covered by the 1968 Medicines Act, drawn up when only a handful of herbal remedies were available and the number of herbal practitioners was very small.

      But surveys show that about a quarter of all adults in the UK have used a herbal medicine in the past two years, mostly bought over the counter in health food shops and pharmacies.

      The regulations will cover widely used products such as echinacea, St John's Wort and valerian, as well as traditional Chinese and Indian medicines.

      Herbal remedies that have been approved for sale under the new regulations will come with a logo . But safety concerns have focused on the powerful effects of some herbal remedies, as well as the way they interact with conventional drugs.

      For example, St John's Wort can interfere with the contraceptive pill, while ginkgo and ginseng are known to have a similar effect to the blood-thinning drug warfarin.

      From now on only products that have been assessed by the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will be allowed to go on sale.

      Manufacturers will have to prove that their products have been made to strict standards and contain a consistent and clearly marked dose.

      And to count as a traditional medicine, products must have been in use for the past 30 years, including 15 years within the EU.

      They will also only be approved for minor ailments like coughs and colds, muscular aches and pains, or sleep problems.

      Remedies already on sale will be allowed to stay on the shelves until they reach their expiry date.

      Richard Woodfield, head of herbal medicine policy at the MHRA, says so far there have been 211 applications, of which 105 have been granted registration.

      We're very concerned that patients appreciate they must be very careful when they take these medicines and ideally should talk to their doctor or pharmacist Prof Jayne Lawrence, Royal Pharmaceutical Society

      "Crucially, this EU directive and the registration scheme puts consumers in the driving seat so they can identify that a product meets assured standards on safety, quality and information about safe use.

      "Safety speaks for itself, but quality means, are they using the right part of the plant? Is it free from contamination? Is the claimed shelf life suitable?

      "Product information will include possible side effects and interactions with other drugs, but above all it must make very clear that it is based on traditional use."

      And that is a key point for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, which believes the new regime is a step forward in improving safety and quality.

      But Prof Jayne Lawrence, chief science adviser to the society, says there are still some concerns about herbal products.

      "They certainly haven't been tested on the same basis as a conventional medicine and some of these compounds are very potent.

      "Patients might not realise that in some cases they should not take other medicines with them, or if they're going for surgery they should tell their doctors they are taking these particular medicines because there may be complications.

      "So we're very concerned that patients appreciate they must be very careful when they take these medicines and, ideally, should talk to their doctor or pharmacist."

      The manufacturers of herbal remedies have had seven years to prepare for the new rules after the European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products was introduced in 2004.

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  • Posted

    if you want to find out about adverse reactions look at the MHRA Yellow Card site and look for Drug Analysis Profiles. Also look at the US site drugs dot com as you can find drug interactions between prescription and herbal medicines. I use both of these to determine if the OtC herbal and alternative medicines i use will cause problems witg each other.

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    • Posted

      I use drugs dot com and have twice reported a problem with an alternative makers version of a drug to MHRA. They took it seriously and sent a courier to collect samples. Unfortunately they just check that the tablets have the correct amount of the ingredient and ignore the different bulking agents.

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  • Posted

    I saw an article a while ago about how the leading multi vit and mineral from centrum contains forms of vitamins and minerals that are synthetic and cheap and not always readily absorbable. The fillers and colours used in these pills are not good and some can actually be toxic!

    I couldn't find the same article but by looking for multimineral contains toxins I immediately found a better one that contained a lot of advice and info about what types of Vit and mineral are best to take (food being a good option!).

    You are what you eat so take care not pick up the easiest and cheapest options as they might not do what they say on the label.

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