The number of injuries and death associated with prescription drugs reached a record high according to new report from The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), a healthcare watchdog agency.
The report says in the first quarter of 2008, deaths linked to prescription medications were almost three times that of previous quarters, with more than 4,800 fatalities. There were nearly 21,000 reported injuries from bad drug reactions, up 38 percent from last year's average.
For a second straight quarter, Pfizer's anti-smoking drug Chantix was at the top of the list, and the FDA issued a strong warning against it. It has been linked to blackouts and psychiatric issues, and the report says it accounted for 50 deaths.
Pfizer responded, saying, "we stand by the efficacy and safety profile of Chantix when used as directed," The statement continued, "Chantix labeling accurately reflects its efficacy and safety event reports and clinical trial data."
Ranking second was the blood thinner Heparin. This was an unusual case because the spike in adverse reports was linked to drug contamination from suppliers in China. The FDA ultimately recalled the drug.
In order, the other eight drugs listed as causing the most injury are Fentanyl, Interferon Beta, Infliximab, Etanercept, Clopidogrel, Pregabalin, and Acetaminophenand Oxycodone.
The ISMP does say the data is limited, because the FDA's adverse drug reaction reporting system is voluntary, and the information may not reflect the actual number of cases each quarter.