"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

FDA warns about hidden ingredients in arthritis and painkillers

October 24, 2023 – Certain products marketed to treat arthritis and pain may contain hidden ingredients that would harm consumers, in accordance with an FDA warning.

Some of those products contain energetic ingredients which can be present in prescription medications.

“These products have the potential to cause serious side effects and may interact with medications or dietary supplements a consumer is taking,” the FDA said in a statement. “It is clear from the results of our decades of testing that retailers and wholesalers, including online marketplaces, cannot effectively prevent the sale of potentially harmful products of this type to consumers.”

Over 10 years of testing, the FDA identified 22 Arthritis and painkillers with ingredients not listed on the product label. These hidden ingredients might be energetic, meaning they've a direct effect on the body or are inactive, said Candy Tsourounis, PharmD, a professor within the Department of Clinical Pharmacy on the University of California, San Francisco. Ibuprofen, for instance, is the energetic ingredient in Advil. Inactive ingredients are things like preservatives, flavors and colours.

Unlike pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs comparable to loratadine (Claritin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), dietary supplements don't require FDA approval before they might be sold. The FDA cannot intervene until a grievance is filed or FDA testing reveals illegal or unsafe ingredients.

During this investigation, the FDA found pharmaceuticals in certain dietary supplements, including steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants, Tsourounis said.

Kuka Flex Forte and Reumo Flex – each really useful for joint pain and arthritis – each contain the NSAID diclofenac. Tapee Tea – a product advertised for pain relief – comprises the steroid dexamethasone and the NSAID piroxicam. Diclofenac, dexamethasone, and piroxicam are all prescription medications.

“It's interesting that these products contain hidden ingredients that reduce swelling and inflammation,” Tsourounis said. “I don't know if this was intentional, but it seems suspicious that a product marketed to relieve joint pain and inflammation would contain prescription-only ingredients used for that purpose.”

This sort of medication may cause serious unintended effects. Steroids can affect the body's ability to fight off infections. And in some patients, NSAIDs can result in the next risk of stroke or heart attack. Muscle relaxants may cause dizziness and sleepiness and will make someone unable to perform certain tasks, comparable to driving or operating heavy machinery, Tsourounis said. These medications can even interact with other medications someone is taking or cause an allergic response.

These forms of products likely goal underserved and immigrant communities, Dr. Pieter Cohen, a family physician and assistant professor of medication at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, who studies dietary supplements. They might be sold in corner stores or gas stations to individuals who have limited access to health care or insurance, he said.

Tsourounis advises anyone taking any of the products listed, stop immediately and get in touch with their care team. They can provide safer recommendations for treating symptoms and will suggest tests, comparable to: B. checking kidney function. Any unintended effects or hostile events that could be related to using these products might be reported to FDA MedWatch Safety information and hostile event reporting program.

The FDA warned against this this list included “only a small fraction of the potentially dangerous products marketed to consumers online and in stores.” Even if a product just isn't included on this list, consumers should exercise caution before using a lot of these arthritis and pain management products use.”

To ensure supplements and other over-the-counter products are secure to make use of, Tsourounis really useful purchasing products from well-known retailers like Target or large pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens. Avoid purchasing products with labels in one other language that you simply cannot read, and be wary of products that supply miracle cures or depend on personal claims without evidence.

In general, don't purchase based on health claims on a product label because corporations that sell supplements with those claims “are not required to have clinical data to support those claims,” ​​Cohen said.

Cohen also said to stick to individual ingredients. “If you want echinacea, buy echinacea. Don't buy a complicated mix of 10 different botanicals that claim to be good for arthritis [ingredients]. That’s more likely to cause problems,” he said.

Finally, Cohen really useful buying supplements certified by the NSF or USP, each respected third-party testing organizations. “If it has an NSF or USP stamp, that gives us more confidence that what's in the bottle matches what's on the label,” he said.

Tsourounis identified that for those who are skeptical a couple of product, you may check with the FDA Healthcare Fraud Database to see if the product is displayed. You can even try calling the phone number on the product label.

“I always encourage people to call that number to see if anyone answers,” she said. “Sometimes you can tell a lot about the company just by calling that number.”