Product News and Recalls

Physicians question whether blood pressure drugs over-prescribed

A story in The Oregonian deals with the controversial question of whether people with borderline high blood pressure are taking medicine unnecessarily.

The issue is getting a good deal of discussion in the medical community following a recent column in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, in which a British doctor called for raising the blood pressure levels at which medication is prescribed.

Among the doctor’s concerns is that prescribing medication too readily may unnecessarily expose patients to potential side effects from blood pressure drugs.

A recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal uncovered e-mails by a high-ranking U.S. Food and Drug Administration staffer, who raised concerns over a potential link between cancer and certain blood pressure medications such as Benicar.

The FDA is also investigating whether the blood pressure drug Benicar increases the risk of heart-related deaths, and a recent Mayo Clinic report has also linked the drug to stomach problems including chronic diarrhea, vomiting, intestinal inflammation and weight loss.

In the JAMA column, the doctor calls for raising the levels at which medication is diagnosed, to 160 and 100. She alleges that the lower level of 140/90 creates millions of drug customers, and is largely a result of campaigning by the pharmaceutical industry.

That column follows research published last year in the respected Cochrane Review. Based on an analysis of four studies, researchers concluded that medication did not result in lower rates of mortality or poor health for people with blood pressure in the borderline ranges, The Oregonian reports.

You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns, and before making any changes in medication. You should also consult with a lawyer if you have injuries connected with Benicar.