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Originally published April 9 2010

FDA finally admits that asthma drugs can actually cause serious asthma attacks

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued new restrictions for four popular long-acting asthma drugs. Novartis AG's Foradil, GlaxoSmithKline's Serevent and Advair, and AstraZeneca's Symbicort, all contain an ingredient that relaxes airway muscles in the lungs which can cause asthma-related death. If not accompanied by other asthma drugs to offset this life-threatening side effect, the consequences could be fatal.

These drugs have long contained a label that reads, "increases risk of asthma-related death", but apparently this warning is not enough for this extreme class of medications. Known as long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs), these asthma drugs are used by roughly six million asthma sufferers to combat asthma symptoms. Ironically, LABAs are so dangerous that, if not combined with other asthma drugs, can actually cause an asthma attack.

It defies logic to try to figure out how asthma drugs that can kill people by causing severe asthma attacks are considered to be useful and effective medicine. Instead of pulling these dangerous drugs from the market entirely as it should, the FDA is ordering that stronger labels be affixed to warn doctors and physicians about the extreme risks associated with taking the drugs. It is unclear from the agency's press release exactly how it intends to strengthen the drugs' current death warning.

The FDA has indicated that it will require the drugs' manufacturers to conduct education campaigns for medical professionals about how to safely use the LABA asthma drugs. The agency is also mandating that each manufacturer conduct additional studies to verify the safety of their drugs.

Since 2002, the FDA had continually rejected all of the overwhelming evidence presented to it that LABAs are inherently dangerous. Only in 2008 did the FDA first admit that the drugs were dangerous, particularly for children and some adults. Prior to that, the agency seemed to be in agreement with a series of industry spin pieces concocted by the drug industry to defend the alleged safety of the drugs; this alone exhibits the FDA's lunacy in asking the industry to conduct more of its own safety studies.

While warning that the drugs should only be used "as necessary" seems like a step in the right direction, the FDA should be taking a leap to pull these drugs off the market. Many experts agree that these drugs are wholly dangerous, and that the industry has been aware of these dangers for nearly a decade. Once again, the FDA is giving lip service to the public it is supposed to be defending while protecting drug industry interests instead.

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