Dangerous Rx Meds Americans Take That Are Banned Outside of the U.S.

It’s no secret that taking any kind of medication puts you at the risk of its side effects. When those side effects are too life-threatening to risk, you should be able to trust that regulators will ban their sale and consumption.

As Joe Graedon, a professor at the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy puts it, “Physicians, pharmacists and patients in the U.S. deserve the same protection” as other countries. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

These dangerous Rx meds have been deemed too risky in other countries, but the FDA has given them the U.S. stamp of approval.

1. Soma

An open bottle of pills on a black background.

Other counties have deemed Soma to be unsafe. | iStock.com

You may know Soma under its generic name, carisoprodol, as the U.S. still has it on the market. Norway and Sweden have banned the muscle relaxant due to its “potentially fatal” traits, according to Graedon. Soma acts similarly to alcohol in its effects on the central nervous system — and that it’s highly addictive.

Its side effects are reportedly intolerable, so Graedon noted that “instead of Soma, most physicians now prescribe benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax for anxiety and more specific muscle relaxers that target the painful area.”

2. Phentermine

A small white pill seen in the palm of a person's hand.

This popular diet pill can be potentially dangerous. | iStock.com

In 1997, the FDA removed “fen-phen” from the market, as the diet pill was known to cause heart valve problems. The “fen” part of the drug, fenfluramine, had been banned in the U.S., but the “phen” half is still legally available for weight loss purposes.

Phentermine has been banned in the UK among other countries due to heart complications, so the U.S. should consider getting rid of it once and for all.

3. Avandia

White pills spilled on a dark table.

Don’t ask your doctor for this medication. | iStock.com

Avandia has been banned in multiple countries, but the U.S. still distributes this diabetes medication. The European Medicines Agency warned against the medication due to heart risks, so the UK and India banned the drug in 2010. New Zealand and South Africa followed suit in 2011.

This medication has been linked to increasing the risk of heart failure by 64 percent over a 7-year span. Users are also at a 27 percent higher risk for strokes and 43 percent higher risk for heart attacks. Even though the U.S. hasn’t banned this life-threatening drug yet, you should avoid it at all costs.

4. Actos

Medicine pill removed from blister pack.

This medication has very dangerous side effects. | Thanmano/iStock/Getty Images

Yet another dangerous diabetes medication, Actos is banned in Germany and France. The U.S. should consider dropping the drug, too, considering it’s been associated with higher risk of bladder cancer.

According to Graedon, “Even though the FDA itself issued a warning about the cancer risk, it’s still a best seller.”

5. Barbiturates

Barbiturates and other medicine on a dark background.

Barbiturates aren’t always a safe option. | Moussa81/iStock/Getty Images

Barbiturates are seriously dangerous depressants, but they’re widely available on the U.S. market. Phenobarbital, amobarbital, pentobarbital, and hexobarbital are the many names you might see, which should all be avoided. While they’re used to treat insomnia and anxiety disorders, they’ve been linked to fatal intoxication and abuse potential.

They’re banned overseas, but Graedon criticizes that “the FDA continues to drop the ball as a regulating agency when it comes to keeping Americans safe.” He continues, “These drugs simply should not be on the U.S. market.”

6. Germander

Germander seen outdoors in a garden.

Germander is readily available in the U.S | Apugach/iStock/Getty Images

If France has banned a drug and Canada restricts any consumption of it by mouth, why would the U.S. still use it so commonly?

Germander is known to cause scary side effects, including irregular liver function, liver disease, and even death. The U.S. continues to use the plant-based medication, not only for weight loss, but as a flavoring agent in alcoholic beverages.

7. 700 generic drugs

A person holding medication in one hand and a glass of water in the other.

A lot of the drugs tested were deemed unsafe. | iStock.com

Yes, 700 generic drugs being sold in the U.S. have been banned in Europe. The reason? According to Graedon, European regulators cut off the sale of drugs that were tested by GVK Biosciences. The Indian testing company reportedly committed “misconduct, regulatory violations, and intentional fraud analysis in the process of generic drug testing on healthy human volunteers.”

Some drugs on the lengthy list include Allegra, Keppra, Bystolic, and Effexor. Graedon disclosed that the “U.S. FDA inspection found ‘no evidence of systemic issues’ while the European inspectors were so concerned with what they found that their regulatory body banned roughly 700 generic drugs as a result of their investigations.”

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