Aleve raising concern with patients - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Aleve raising concern with patients

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December 21, 2004

Albany - Many of you may be wondering just what medicine you can take for pain. Naproxen, sold mainly under the brand name Aleve, is the latest drug under scrutiny. A government study showed it can increase your risk of heart problems, but not all doctors agree it's dangerous.

Erin Pekot is one of the thousands of Americans who relies on medicine to relieve her chronic pain. "It is shocking," she said when hearing news that several painkillers, including the over-the-counter drug naproxen may cause serious side effects. "Maybe there's not enough research done on them in term of the long term effects."

Pekot says drug makers should tell doctors more information about new medicines, so they can pass that info onto their patients. But, Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Scott McGee says don't get too worked up over the latest drug warnings. "If you look at some of these studies, they may have 4,000 people taking these drugs. The side effect may happen to one per hundred, one percent," said Dr. McGee

Some studies were often performed on a select group. For example, the naproxen study analyzed only Alzheimer's patients. All the patients took the medicine longer than the recommended dosage.

"I think some of these things are sensationalism. Some people do have an ax to grind or point to make. Every drug has side effects," said Dr. McGee.

He says to prevent potential deadly side effects, you must be an informed consumer. "If you ask your physicians the right questions, you should get the appropriate answers. Be aware of some of these situations. If he can't answer them, I think you owe it to yourself to find a doctor that can answer the questions."

Erin Pekot and her husband, Stephen, ask themselves these questions before deciding to take a new medicine, "What are my personal risks and what am I willing to give up to enjoy a good quality of life now," said Stephen.

The FDA hasn't decided whether any new regulatory action for naproxen is necessary. FDA officials advise naproxen users to follow the recommended dosage, two pills a day for no more than ten days, unless otherwise directed by a doctor.