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The results from a new six year study may bring hope for those who have been forced to use dangerous drugs like statins to lower their cholesterol levels.

Whereas statins reduce LDL cholesterol by preventing it from being made, ezetimibe achieves the same result by preventing LDL cholesterol from being absorbed. The study, discussed at the annual meeting of theAmerican Heart Association, separated subjects into two groups – a group given statins and a group given the new drug ezetimibe. The statin group ended with an LDL of 69, while the ezetimibe group had an average LDL of 54. The second group also suffered 6.4 percent fewer cardiac incidents, such as heart attacks, strokes, and severe chest pain. One prominent observer called the outcome “fantastic” and “a truly spectacular result for patients.”

Statins

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Thrombosis, or blood clots as they are colloquially known, tend to manifest naturally in men more than women. Women, however, are at risk for blood clots primarily because of pregnancy, birth control, and other hormonal therapies men do not generally take, according to StopTheClot.org.

Birth control pills are the most common form of contraceptive used in the U.S., and carry a high risk of blood clotting. Women who take birth control pills are generally three to four times more likely of developing a blood clot than women who do not take the pill.

It should be noted that the chance of a woman developing a blood clot as a result of taking birth control pills is still relatively small. Only about one in 3,000 women develop a blood clot because of birth control, but if a woman has a history of thrombosis in her family, the risk increases significantly.

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Side effects of certain medication can put people at high risk for harm, increasing pain, and long-term medical conditions. It is the responsibility of drug manufacturers to make publicly known the severity of side effects its products may cause.

One of the highest-selling medications, Levaquin, secured record high sales in 2012 with $1.5 billion worth of prescriptions sold, according to Forbes. The antibiotic is prescribed to patients to treat conditions such as:

  • urinary tract infections;
  • pneumonia;
  • acute bacterial sinusitis; and
  • skin infections.

A little over a year ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a drug safety warning about the risks Levaquin carries. The administration required updates to drug labeling and medication guides to include a better description of one of the major side effects of taking the medication: peripheral neuropathy.

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Pradaxa is a blood thinner, which was approved by the FDA in 2010, and prescribed to prevent blood clots in patients not suffering from a heart rhythm abnormality. Over a period of 11 months, an estimated 1.1 million prescriptions were written for the medication.

Since then, the FDA has issued multiple safety warnings about the potential of serious risks the use of Pradaxa carries for patients. Post-marketing reports have pointed to serious bleeding, some of which may lead to fatalities, occurring in patients taking the blood thinner.

The New York Times reported in 2012 that unlike warfarin, an older blood thinner, there is not an antidote to reverse the blood-thinning effects of Pradaxa and over 500 deaths had been linked to the drug. In the same month, the FDA issued an additional safety announcement stating that Pradaxa should not be used to prevent stroke or blood clot in patients with mechanical heart valves.

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A number of studies have linked certain SSRIs to birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Celexa is a SSRI typically prescribed as an antidepressant, but has been shown to carry risks when taken by women who are pregnant.

The FDA issued drug safety information alerting women of the risk Celexa poses when taken during pregnancy. Its warning was based on analysis of a published study identifying babies born to mothers taking SSRIs like Celexa as six times more likely to suffer from persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) following the 20th week of pregnancy.

PPHN occurs when blood does not flow by the lungs in newborn babies. Symptoms of the condition include:

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