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New Risks for Pepcid

With Merck's failed bid to secure over-the-counter (OTC) status for Mevachor still fresh on my mind, a FDA report this week about labeling changes in drugs caught my attention. At the bottom of the report was a brief mention of the H2-receptor antagonist, Famotidine, better known by its OTC label Pepcid.

The FDA will now require Pepcid to include for the following warning on its label: "Famotidine should not be used in patients experiencing difficult or painful swallowing, vomiting with blood, or bloody or tarry stools. These may be signs of a serious condition and should be evaluated by a physician. The FDA notes that famotidine should not be used concurrently with other acid reducers."

Folks, Pepcid is just one of a popular group of acid-suppressive drugs -- including Nexium, Prevacid and Zantac -- that can often cause more problems than they solve. If you're not convinced, a recent study found that taking these drugs could increase your risk of pneumonia.

Unfortunately, many people are being prescribed drugs for heartburn when it is one of the easiest medical problems to treat. Here's how:

Other new warnings of drugs listed in the FDA report:

  • Bupropion HCl extended-release tablets (Wellbutrin XL, GlaxoSmithKline): The dose-related risk of seizures.
  • Ramipril (Altace, King Pharmaceuticals): The risk of intestinal angioedema in patients treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical): The risk of arthropathy.
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