Arthritis medications taken by up to one in four American adults may contain harmful ingredients that are not printed on their labels, health officials warn.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spent 10 years evaluating the ingredients in over-the-counter pain and arthritis relievers and found that 22 contain active ingredients such as corticosteroids and muscle relaxants.
The agency warned that failure to label these ingredients could put the 58 million Americans with arthritis at risk for serious health problems, including kidney and liver problems. It could also be dangerous for those who already take medications with these ingredients.
“It is clear from the results of our decade of testing that retailers and distributors, including online marketplaces, do not effectively prevent these types of potentially harmful products from being sold to consumers,” the FDA wrote.
‘The FDA cannot test all products on the market that contain potentially harmful hidden ingredients. Enforcement actions and consumer advisories about contaminated products only cover a small fraction of contaminated OTC products on the market.
Many of the 22 affected products have been advertised and sold in retail stores and online marketplaces such as Etsy and Amazon. They may contain undisclosed ingredients from the families of NSAIDs, steroids and muscle relaxants.
The FDA warned that failure to label ingredients such as NSAIDs, steroids and muscle relaxants could put the 58 million Americans with arthritis at risk for serious health problems. It could also be dangerous for those who already take medications with these ingredients.
“Even if a product is not included on this list, consumers should exercise caution before using these types of products for the treatment of arthritis and pain.”
Many of the affected products have been advertised and sold in retail stores and online marketplaces such as Etsy and Amazon. They may contain undisclosed ingredients from the families of NSAIDs, steroids and muscle relaxants.
NSAIDs are medications used to reduce inflammation and treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, headaches, and muscle injuries. Common examples that could be hidden in arthritis medications include ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, piroxicam, and ketorolac.
The FDA warned that these could interact with other medications and increase the risk of certain health conditions, such as heart problems and liver damage. Additionally, the agency also warned that pregnant women should avoid taking NSAIDs during the first half of pregnancy.
Corticosteroids are also anti-inflammatory medications that can treat severe arthritis and other types of pain. Dexamethasone and prednisone are two of the most common examples. When taken for long periods or in high doses, they can cause extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, and weight loss, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Unlike anabolic steroids, which are synthetic variations of male sex hormones that promote muscle growth, corticosteroids are used to treat health conditions such as allergies, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and autoimmune disorders.
Muscle relaxants treat muscle pain and swelling, as well as injuries such as lower back pain. These can cause sedation, dizziness, and low blood pressure.
Arthritis is swelling or tenderness of one or more joints. There are more than 100 subtypes and the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The most common symptoms are pain, redness, warmth, stiffness, decreased range, and swelling of the joints. Federal data suggests that 25 million adults have to limit their daily activities due to arthritis symptoms, and that number is expected to increase by 2040.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the condition affects 24 percent of American adults, which is about 54 million. The condition is most common in adults over 65 years of age. The CDC estimates that half of American adults over age 65 have the condition, while nearly a third of those ages 45 to 65 have been diagnosed.
Treatment includes over-the-counter and prescription medications and activity management. When taken in high doses, they can cause sedation and dizziness. They have also been shown to lower blood pressure, which can cause weakness, fainting, blurred vision, and nausea.
Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is a degenerative disease that breaks down joint tissues over time. Another common type, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s immune system attacks healthy cells within the body’s joints, causing swelling and inflammation. RA can also cause heart, lung, and eye problems.
The FDA encouraged consumers to report adverse effects to its MedWatch reporting program.
What arthritis medications contain undisclosed ingredients?
The FDA identified 22 brands of arthritis medications and other pain relievers that contain NSAIDs, steroids and muscle relaxants that are not listed on the labels.
The agency said this list only represents a small fraction of “contaminated” medications.
Below are the products the FDA urges consumers to avoid:
- Kuka Flex Forte
- Reumo Flex T
- Tapee tea
- Fast Acting Rheumatism Capsule
- New fast-acting rheumatism
- UA Block
- AK strong
- king artri
- Nettle Plus King Garlic
- Nettle Plus King Garlic Extra Forte
- liar tawon
- Artri Ajo Rey
- Linsen Double Caulis Plus
- Pyrola Advanced Joint Formula
- Saurean Fong Sep Lin
- Jianbu Huqian Wan
- Ginseng She Lian Wan
- Asihuri Plus Forte
- Pro ArthMax
Source: Food and Drug Administration