Overwhelmed caretakers faced with the task of caring for people with certain chronic illnesses are not always aware that these medications and devices can have dangerous consequences. Furthermore, manufacturers of risky medical devices and medications are not always quick to acknowledge the potential side effects.
It is important for patients and caretakers to know these risks and to ask doctors about
alternatives to these medications and devices.
Watchdog Groups Claim Risky Devices Lack Proper Oversight
Watchdog groups have found that government regulators whose job it is to monitor issues sometimes let risky medical devices slip through the cracks.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) even called out the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011. The office found fault in the oversight process for devices deemed risky. One of the examples cited by the GAO was metal-on-metal hip implants, which it says were marketed and sold without proper testing.
The GAO specifically named artificial hip implants made by DePuy Orthopaedics (a division of Johnson & Johnson). Those devices reached the market without premarket testing and now face an avalanche of claims from doctors and patients who said the implants failed prematurely and deposited toxic metal debris into the blood stream.
DePuy isn’t the only manufacturer facing complaints over its hip implants. Stryker recalled its Rejuvenate and ABG II hip systems in 2012 and Smith & Nephew issued an international recall of its R3 Acetabular System that same year. In addition, Zimmer recalled its Durom Cup Hip model in 2008.
Women Report Problems from Transvaginal Mesh Procedures
More information is coming out every day surrounding a medical device used exclusively by women. Many women had transvaginal mesh implanted to reverse pelvic organ prolapse and alleviate incontinence issues brought on by childbirth and menopause. Even though patients were convinced the procedure was low risk, many women suffered devastating side effects.
Women who received these implants reported painful intercourse and excruciating pelvic pain attributed to erosion—where the device slices through the vaginal wall and into surrounding organs. The affected women often have to have several surgeries to repair the damage.
Again, poor design and a lack of premarket testing are being blamed. Tens of thousands of mesh lawsuits seek to hold the manufacturers responsible.
Diabetes Drugs Linked to Serious Illnesses
Some of the most popular drugs linked to dangerous risks are non-insulin medications intended to regulate type 2 diabetes.
Several diabetes drugs have been linked to a host of illnesses:
· Byetta and Bydureon: Serious side effects can include pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer.
· Januvia and Janumet: These drugs are linked to pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
· Victoza: This injectable drug is linked to pancreatitis and thyroid cancer.
Many of these medications and devices remain on the market, and people use them every day. Patients and caretakers can make more informed choices if they know the risks that can come along with using them. Before taking any drug or getting fitted for any device, you should check with watchdog agencies and groups such as Drugwatch and The Consumer Watchdog for Safe and Effective Drugs.
Julian Hills is a staff writer for Drugwatch.