20 Drugs That Probably Won't Kill You, But Potentially Could, Maybe

Don’t freak out or anything, but the FDA is going to publish a list of medicines that could kill you. Or not. They’re not really sure. Still, there is going to be a list, and if it shows a medicine that you’re taking, then, um, yeah, sorry to hear that…

The first list is a bare-bones compilation naming 20 medications and the potential issue for each. It provides no indication of how widespread or serious the problems might be, leading some consumer advocates to question its usefulness, and prompting industry worries that skittish patients might stop taking a useful medication if they see it listed.

Food and Drug Administration officials said they are trying to walk a fine line in being more open to the public while avoiding needless scares. Congress, in a drug safety bill passed last year, ordered the agency to post quarterly listings of medications under investigation.

“My message to patients is this: Don’t stop taking your medicine,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, who heads the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “If your doctor has prescribed a drug that appears on this list, you should continue taking it unless your doctor advises you differently.”

Google proficiency obviously doesn’t confer a M.D., but that doesn’t stop some consumers from freaking out at the first sign of trouble. With that in mind, the FDA issued its list with this crystal-clear caveat:

The appearance of a drug on this list does not mean that FDA has concluded that the drug has the listed risk, or that FDA has identified a causal relationship between the drug and the listed risk. It is on the list only because FDA has identified a potential safety issue.

Potential Signals of Serious Risks/New Safety Information Identified by the Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) [FDA]
FDA posts its first online list of drugs under investigation for safety problems [AP]