5 Popular Drugs You Better Stay Away From

Medicine has come a long way from the ancient traditional healing to the present-day evidence-based medicine. However, it is wrong to believe that drugs causing more harm than good existed only in the Middle Ages. Suffice it to recall that in the late 50s, the creation of sleeping aid Thalidomide, considered harmless for everyone, eventually led to the birth of 12,000 children with limb development defects.

5 Popular Drugs You Better Stay Away FromUndoubtedly, since then drug requirements became stricter, and control over pharmaceutical companies has increased. However, the commercialization of medicine, seeking to prescribe as much drugs as possible rather than help the patient, is a sad and dangerous tendency. The pharmaceutical industry, in the pursuit of profit, distorted the normal process of registration and use of drugs. A large number of drugs is registered every year, although most of the new products have no significant advantages over the old ones and are associated with dangerous side effects. Information contained in the huge mass of advertising is often misleading or false.

Are widely used medications as safe as manufacturers claim? Canadian healthcare pharmacy recounts five popular drugs that can do more harm than the disease they meant to treat.

Ambien (Zolpidem)

Scientists found that the popular sleeping pills that include zolpidem are increasing the risk of heart attacks. In a recent report, the researchers indicated that the amount of zolpidem contained in 60 pills would increase the risk of a heart attack by 50%, while taking only four 35 mg pills increases the risk by 20%. But Ambien also has other completely bizarre side effects. Patients undergoing Ambien treatment can develop rather strange habits, namely performing quite ordinary actions without really waking up. The medication guide warns that people undergoing Ambien treatment may not remember driving the car, cooking and eating food, having sex, walking around, etc., after taking the drug. If having some adventures isn’t your intention, choose an alternative treatment.


Millions of people are taking sleeping pills, and many can no longer imagine their life without them. The most well-known and frequently used sleeping pills include temazepam, prescribed for nervous disorders, insomnia and sleep disturbances; triazolam, sedative and hypnotic medication; flurazepam, used for difficulties in falling asleep, frequent night awakenings and to increase the duration of sleep. All of these are benzodiazepine derivatives, and are distinguished by a strong hypnotic effect. Prolonged or incorrect use of triazolam may cause anterograde amnesia, a condition when people stop remembering events that happened recently.

Temazepam, phenazepam, afobazole and other tranquilizers commonly cause headache, dizziness, and violate sexual activity as side effects, poisoning the liver and kidneys when used for more than 6 months. Confusion, impaired concentration, drowsiness, slowing mental and motor reactions are just one of the consequences of relying on Temazepam for getting some sleep. It also causes muscle weakness and decreased sexual activity. In a recent study, scientists linked the use of potent sleeping pills with a 50% increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Prozac (Fluoxetine)

Prozac is prescribed for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and nervous bulimia. The patent for Prozac expired back in 2001, so many cheaper generic drugs became available in the pharmacies. Fluoxetine, discovered and marketed by Eli Lilly and Company, belongs to a group of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). This group is considered to be third-generation antidepressants, well tolerated and having no significant side effects.

Clinical studies have confirmed the effectiveness of fluoxetine, a key component of Prozac. However, Cochrane, a global independent network of researchers and healthcare professionals, notes that not all test data was published by the manufacturer. According to Eli Lilly’s internal documents, during the tests, manufacturers often attributed suicides to an increase in depression or overdose. Critics claim that the developer company has deliberately concealed real statistics, including the fact that taking fluoxetine can induce suicidal thoughts and aggressive behavior in young people. On top of that, Prozac, as well as other antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, may cause erectile dysfunction, experts say.


Taking ropinirole for treating restless legs syndrome and Parkinson’s disease can increase thirst for gambling and sex, according to the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline. In 2011, a 51-year-old Frenchman who took Requip (a drug containing ropinirole), sued the company after he became addicted to gambling, and began to experience craving for homosexual relationships. The medication label states: “Patients should inform their doctor if they begin to experience increased craving for gambling, increased sexual desire and other strong desires while taking the drug.”

Chantix/Anti-Smoking Drugs

Anti-smoking aids Chantix and Zyban received FDA warnings back in 2009 after reports of suicidal tendencies, hostility and depression in a significant number of patients. Now the situation has slightly changed and the FDA justified its decision with the results of a study conducted with 8000 smokers who did not show any signs of increasing the risk of mental disorders when using Chantix (if they did not have a history of mental illness). According to the FDA, the risk of adverse mental effects is still present, especially for those patients who are currently being treated for mental disorders – depression, anxiety disorder and schizophrenia – or those who underwent mental treatment in the past. Important to say, the study mentioned was jointly funded by the manufacturers of Zyban, i.e. Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.

Not only that certain drugs can be potentially dangerous by their very nature, counterfeits and medicines of “questionable” quality are no less threatening. Buying generic drugs from a trusted company is a “must” for those taking their health seriously.

Jeffry Lee

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