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Saturday 7 September 2013

Failure of Painkilling Drugs

Painkillers have been one of conventional medicine's most lauded triumphs over the last century and more. But alongside most of conventional medical treatment they are failing. Even our doctor's are now beginning to realise that painkilling drugs are failing!

In the GP e-magazine, Pulse, a doctor asked the question "...what GP's have been left with to treat patients with chronic pain?" The article states that

          "... GP options for managing persistent pain in their patients have declined markedly over the past decade, but it seems we may have finally reached crisis point".

The GP goes on to talk about the rise of fall of co-proxamol, selective Cox-2 inhibitors, and traditional NSAIDs. And now, she bemoaned "the safety of yet another analgesic called into question, especially the one most often prescribed". She refers, of course, to Paracetamol.

"So what exactly is left?" is the question asked. What can doctors recommend to patients with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, or back pain? It would appear that the conventional medical cupboard is, indeed, quite bear!

This blog looked at the dangers of Aspirin (August 2013) and found that it is not the safe painkiller it has been made out to be for over 100 years. But it is certainly not alone, and now Paracetamol (known as Tylonol in the USA), and lots of other NSAIDs, or 'Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs', have come into sharp focus over their safety record.

I have also written here about the dangers of Diclofenac (July 2013), a NSAID painkiller introduced in 1993, and now banned (although only in the UK abd Europe) for people with heart problems.

I have also written about the banned painkiller, Darvon, or Co-Proxamol, a drug introduced in the 1950's, and although causing heart problems for decades, was not banned in the UK until 2006.

Ibuprofen is another 'popular' painkiller whose safety record needs to be seriously considered. This article outlines just some of the DIEs of this drug. And this article talks of Ibuprofen as a painkiller popular with athletes, and outlines the dangers they can cause - to even the fittest amongst us.

Many people believe that the dangers of these painkilling drugs is that they are overused, they are subject to overdose. So can these dangers be avoided by avoiding 'overdosing' on painkillers? Yet it is becoming clear that another problem arises here - that to 'overdose' on painkillers is far easier than had been realised (or admitted). This WDDTY article suggests that an overdose possible with just a couple of additional pills. And as outlined here, just a tiny 'overdose' of Paracetamol can become a killer

So what is becoming clear is that all painkillers, even a 'low' or 'recommended' doses are equally damaging to our health. 

If we look more closely at Paracetamol (Tylenol) it has long been admitted that this drug causes nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, and jaundice, and that emergency medical help is recommended if hives, difficult breathing, face swelling occur. On a Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) I saw recently there are many reasons for NOT taking Paracetamol given:
* if the patient has a list of existing illnesses;
* if the patient is taking a long list of drugs that might interact with it;
* several reasons for 'informing your doctor' if and when a patient experiences certain side-effects;
* and a significant list of 'serious' and 'other' side effects are also mentioned.

Yet this PIL list, as usual, consists only of the the disease inducing effects (DIEs) admitted by Big Pharma, and the Conventional Medical Establishment.

These dangers of Paracetamol - which include liver damage, pancreatitis, even death have been known and accepted for many years.
Yet most people believe that Paracetamol is essentially a safe one, if taken properly.

Yet there are many conditions that are now linked with Paracetamol that are not included in any PIL, or in any information given to us by the conventional medical establishment. These have not yet been acknowledge, recognised or admitted. For instance, in this article published in a national newspaper, the links between Paracetamol and Asthma in children is discussed.

This article goes further, and says that all NSAID painkillers, such as Paracetomol, are known to cause Asthma is children, and particularly in children who have been given the drug during the first year of their life.

This becomes extremely disturbing when we realise that, as parents, most of us have given our children the drug Calpol, the painkiller made especially for very young children, and that this drug mainly comprises of Paracetamol.

Then in this article, acetaminophen (that is, the active ingredient in Paracetamol, Tylenol) is associated with the risk of the rare, but serious skin condition, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which can apparently be fatal. Nor, as the article makes clear, is this the result of an overdose of the drug as "These reactions can occur with first-time use of acetaminophen, or at any time while it is being taken".

More recently, NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in the UK) has warned doctors against prescribing paracetamol for people suffering from osteoarthritis.

However, as usual, the conventional medical establishment are divided over this advice. There is always lengthy discussion when there is a suggestion that runs counter to Big Pharma's financial interests! So, the MHRA (the UK's drug regulator) has announced that it is not in agreement with, and is not supporting this advice!

So we patients, especially the millions of osteoarthritis sufferers who are taking these painkillers, and presumably their doctors too, are now left to guess who is right. The decision will eventually have to be made by the conventional medical establishment! And that may be many years ahead, during which time many more patients will suffer the DIEs of these painkillers.

What is also frightening is that Paracetamol (Tylenol), and many other painkillers, are drugs readily available as an OTC (over-the-counter) drug, so requires no doctor's prescription. Most families will have paracetamol or some other NSAID painkiller in their homes, and consider it to be a 'safe' drug. Few will read the Patient Information leaflets, albeit with its limited information. I found my copy in a thrown-away package; the drugs had been taken, the PIL was clearly left unopened, and unread.

The consequences of our doctor-induced love affair with painkilling drugs are many. The Guardian newspaper reported that 1 million Britains suffered constant and crippling headaches by the overuse of painkillers. And as the Daily Mail reported about the same evidence:

          "As many as one in 50 of the population regularly has headaches triggered by the very drugs meant to be numbing their pain".

High Blood Pressure has been linked to OTC painkillers. Evidence for this has been reported in this article by WDDTY, and of course, anyone with high blood pressure as a result of taking painkillers are then likely to be given Antihypotensive drugs, and thus subject to all the adverse effects of these drugs too.

Yet the problems identified with painkilling drugs continue.

This research linked popular painkillers to hearing loss in women.

This article links NSAID painkillers with 'wreaking havoc with the small intestine.

And for men, even our manhood is threatened by painkillers - they have been found to dramatically lower testosterone levels.

The painkilling 'crisis' could have been foreseen - but only if conventional medics had been willing to admit that a patient's pain was only temporarily relieved by painkillers, and that regular use of painkillers increased toxicity within the body, which in many cases merely further exacerbated the pain, and the condition that caused the pain.

Moreover, in isolating and dealing with just the pain these drugs were not addressing the origins or the cause of the pain.

Fortunately, alternative medical therapies have never fallen into this trap. They may not be able to offer a simple, single 'solution' to pain. CAM therapies, after all, recognised that pain has a complicated, and individual aetiology which needed to be understood. So amidst the gloom and despair, and the ultimate failure of the conventional medical establishment, I finish this article with three pieces I have come across recently - about pain management using alternative methods.

This article suggests that we forget conventional painkilling drugs, and instead look to natural remedies and herbs to ease our pain.

This articles suggests natural pain killers beat Big Pharma painkilling drugs - which of course they do - but much more safely.

And this article states that Homeopathy can reduce painkiller usage by over 50%.

And with the failure of painkilling drugs, it will probably have to do much better than that!