The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1061: Which Popular Drugs Can Do Unexpected Harm?

Are there medicines you take for granted that might do you unexpected harm? We talk about the latest findings on pain relievers and heartburn pills.
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Which Popular Drugs Can Do Unexpected Harm?

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Occasionally a medication that has been on the market for some time is found to do unexpected harm. That happened with Vioxx, and led researchers to take a closer look at all NSAIDS.

A large trial showed that the NSAID pain reliever celecoxib (Celebrex) is no worse than naproxen in raising the risk of heart attacks. Or does that mean that naproxen is no better than celecoxib? We talk about the evidence that NSAIDs can increase your chance of a heart attack. What other approaches could you take to alleviate chronic arthritis pain without causing unexpected harm?

Heartburn Medicines and the Risk of Stroke:

People usually think of the acid-suppressing medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) as extremely safe. The FDA has approved several of them (Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec) for OTC use. But clinicians keep reporting new adverse reactions. They may be uncommon, but they are alarming.

The latest connection is between PPI drug use and the risk of stroke. The research was conducted in Denmark and reported at the American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans in November.

An Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Failed its Test:

A recent study of a drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease ended in failure. Many researchers were not surprised, since the track record for this type of medication has been undistinguished at best. Murali Doraiswamy, MD, explains the research and describes the steps each of us can take to help protect ourselves from dementia.

Join the Conversation:

We are interested in your stories and questions about the latest health news. What do you do to ease your joint pain? How about heartburn? Do you rely on a PPI, or do you have a remedy that works for you? Ask your question or share your story: Call 888-472-3366 between 7 and 8 am EDT on December 10, 2016, or email

This Week’s Guest:

Murali Doraiswamy, MD, is Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at Duke University Health System. He is a member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and directs a clinical trials unit that has developed products to treat neurological disorders. Dr. Doraiswamy is co-author of The Alzheimer’s Action Plan. He has also served as an advisor to leading government agencies, healthcare businesses, and patient advocacy groups.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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For people adversely affected by fluoroquinolone antibiotics – Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox and Floxin – go to for some healing. You will be astounded by the lives that have been destroyed but with hopes for recovery.

Terry, your recent radio program discussed two types of anesthesia used in surgery. One causes mental confusion in geriatrics and one does not. I lost the paper on which I recorded their names. Please help. I have a dear friend about to have neuro surgery. Thank you, Marjorie

It seems there are hundreds of people initiating lawsuits against Pradaxa and Xarelto as with all drugs the benefit vs risk is the wise way to go Iy takes investigating and looking for alternatives.

OMG It’s worse than I thought. Perhaps I am missing something, Last time I visited this site there were listen buttons and download buttons……. gone forever now. So I must ask; if this is the PEOPLE’S [ THAT ” ‘S ” IS pharmacy is a posessive indicator btw, then why do J and T think “we the people” should pay for their Villa in Tuscany? Once the software is in place, it’s costs exactly nothing to email someone am mp3 file. NOTHING. They have everyone anestitized with down homey alternative warm fuzzies so it’s time to pay up if you want to hear with the come on advertising claims about each program….. and you get inconclusive, could, should, may, can, often, studies show…. in place of facts. Ka Jing Ka Jing Ka Jing, at ten bucks a pop this show will be roboticaly produced from Tuscany and your money just keeps on rollin in. How Nice…..

BTW, this is going to happen to everything on the internet. It is not one bit different from ” the first hit is free kid”. It’s just on a slightly longer time frame. When it comes to business, people always loose. When it comes to the Earth the money is ALWAYS WRONG.


Gee, a villa in Tuscany would be nice. It is certainly not a reality!
But you can sign up for the podcast to be delivered directly to your computer for free, or you can download the free mp3. Be sure to choose the mp3 option and not the CD if the mp3 is what you want. That is how you get your free mp3.

Was prescribed “Cipro” for a bladder infection….after 3 doses, I started to have intermittent hallucinations and called my doctor who told me to stop immediately. She said “whatever amount I had taken was sufficient” and it was!

I would like to have information on cymbalta. I tried to get off it with no success. Became very sick. There’s no way to taper down past 20 mlg. What are people to do? Why hasn’t the pharmaceutical company done anything about this? I feel very stuck on a medicine that only keeps me from gaining weight. I look anorexic. Any information is much appreciated.

Please tell me the time of Podcast? Also, dates & times for replays? Thank you.


We make our podcast available to download (or stream from our website) by the Monday following our original show broadcast date on our home station (Saturdays at 7am Eastern Time).
Thank you for your interest!

I have had the same side effect from levaquin. This drug was given to me for an infection. Shortly after completing my prescription I have pain in my hip that almost makes it impossible to walk. In addition I have pain not so severe in my ankle and the back of my hand. My doctor suggested Advil. Please share how long it will take to recover and if there is anything else to be done to elevate the pain and discomfort.


PS, are there reports of bacterial growth (maybe called thrush) when using proton pump inhibitors? I was given a Rx for one, after trouble with reflux, used it for a week, got a white fuzz all over the back of my throat and “tonsil stones” formed. Quit the Rx, quit the locally made restaurant’s spicy pork takeout burritos, no further problems with reflux. Took months of irrigation/gargling to clear up the “tonsilloliths” — regular MD had never heard of them.

What can a 80 year old woman take other than tylenol when on a blood thinner (Pradaxa)?

Heartburn—-about 30 years ago I told folks that I bought MALOX by the six pack. Pain about 2 am 4-5 nights a week. How to fix???? Baking soda in hot water!!! Apple cider vinegar each morning. Sliced ginger from the store. FENNEL TEA. Peppermint gels with fennel and ginger. ALSO DGL CHEWABLES. Then homemade sauerkraut made by a friend. ———–Ancient civilizations had something fermented in their diet nearly every day. But, the USA has no such culture. No wonder we have lots of heartburn.

I take a cup of water with 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar before each meal.
So I have the acid inside stomach so no need for my stomach to make more of the acid burning.

You wrote “The latest connection is between PPI drug use and the risk of stroke.”

Wish you would always include one of the modifiers, ischemic or hemorrhagic.

I was a subject in THE PRECISION $tudy for four years – until I was diagnosed with STAGE 3 KIDNEY DISEASE. I’m been a type 1 DIABETIC for 53 years, since mumps pancreatitis @ age 8. WBFO (Buffalo, NY) broadcasts your radio show on Saturdays @ 2 p.m. When I called 1-888-472-3366 the phone rang for 20 times, then disconnected; I did this six times, but would like to discuss my case.

Two family members regularly take PPI’s and each have developed other problems mentioned on the program – kidney stones, lung problems. It is a real struggle to make them understand the connection. Thank you so much for your very informative program.

I would like to add the drug levaquin to the “can really can hurt you” list. I am going to make a long and painful story short. Was given levaquin along with a steroid for a sinus infection. Spent about 6 months struggling with severe tendonitis. First few months dreadful, almost unable to dress myself or to “use the potty”. Hardly able to walk. Unable to do stairs. One leg worse than the other, still have some issues there. Was in shoulders as well but they got better quicker than legs. Nothing to do for it but suffer it out and hope it is not permanent. I was more fortunate that lots of folks who are injured by that drug. Some people are damaged permanently . Just want to warn people!

I recently tripped in a pothole I didn’t see at night. I skinned my knee in two places and ripped my jeans. I put Calendula gel on the open areas and Arniflora gel on surrounding area to stave off bruising and swelling. After a little over a week, there was still an open area that had not scabbed over and it was painful with burning etc. Then I remembered HONEY! It cleared it up and took away the pain in a day and a half. I found it best to leave it uncovered as it makes it’s own secure ‘bandage’. It can be a little sticky…..but who cares…. It works! Thank you marvelous Bees!

I am a 93 year old widow, living alone. I had never suffered from heart burn — could eat anything spicy or not. About three weeks ago I began having heart burn after dinner — seems like no matter what I eat it arrives soon after dinner. I searched for relief — bought some chews — hated them — didn’t work. Then I tried 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in 4 ounces of water. IT WORKS! I no sooner down it than I have a “good burp” and the heart burn is gone! I think I read this in your book, which is my “go to”. Thank you for your great emails — and your book.

I have osteoarthritis. My hands are bent and writing is difficult. I am 79. I have been told twice it is not RA. Celebrex helps the pain, but bothers my lungs and indigestion. Advil, etc. don’t help much. Life is difficult at times, as my feet also have arthritis. If I walk too long, my back starts hurting as I feel like things are out of line. I am afraid to take too much of these drugs for inflammation.

I do have a natural remedy that works for heart burn. It is yellow mustard 1 half to 1 teaspoon and your heartburn is gone. No side effects and stay away from chocolate if you have heart burn.

No time for a podcast; however, I would like to read the transcript of these discussions.

Is that possible?

Chaz, we have not found a way to make that economically feasible. I’m sorry.

VIOXX was a great medication, it helped relieve my O/A. Every medication has side effects, even ones that are OTC. Turmeric makes me dizzy, I had to stop taking it, Celebrex, and naprosyn do nothing for my pain. Biodiesel made my life pain free, now I have to live with chronic pain every day.

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