What do the drugs heparin and Chantix have in common?

Both played starring roles in the startling high number of deaths and serious reactions caused by drug reactions that were reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) early this year, according to the Associated Press.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), a watchdog group that researched data dating back to 2004 and yearly totals from the early 1990s, found more than 4,800 deaths and more than 21,000 adverse drug reactions were reported to the FDA during the first three months this year. The number of adverse reactions was 38 percent higher than the average for the previous four calendar quarters and the highest for any quarter, according to the report. There was a 3 percent increase in the number of deaths compared to the last calendar quarter of 2007.

The FDA defines serious drug reactions as ones that cause hospitalization, require medical intervention, or place a life in jeopardy, according to the Associated Press.

Heparin and Chantix were responsible for a disproportionately large share of the reports.

Earlier this year the blood thinner heparin was recalled after more than 80 people died and thousands more were sickened after receiving injections of heparin that were later found to have been contaminated.

Also this year, the FDA issued a warning against Chantix, a new breed of anti-smoking drug from Pfizer, reporting that the drug may be linked to psychiatric problems including suicidal behavior.

Overall, Chantix lead the way when it came to adverse reactions being reported.



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