Over the past year, the FDA released warnings about three different products sold as remedies for joint, muscle and arthritis pain: Arth-Q, Pro ArthMax and Ortiga. Each of these supplements contains at least one “hidden drug ingredient” that is not listed on the products and poses multiple health risks to users.
Arth-Q was found in FDA lab analysis to contain ibuprofen, the popular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) sold as an over-the-counter pain reliever. While this may not seem like a big deal, taking large amounts of ibuprofen on a regular basis, or taking even a small amount without knowing it, can be dangerous. Large quantities of ibuprofen can cause stomach bleeding, ulceration and fatal perforation; the drug is also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke. If you already take a product containing ibuprofen on top of Arth-Q, the risk of adverse events increases.
FDA lab analysis found Ortiga to contain diclofenac, another NSAID. Diclofenac is stronger than ibuprofen and only available by prescription. It comes with the same risks, including gastrointestinal and cardiovascular adverse events.
Most alarmingly, Pro ArthMax was found to contain several hidden drugs: four different NSAIDs (ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen and indomethacin), the prescription muscle relaxant Chlorzoxazone and a non-narcotic pain reliever called nefopam, which is not approved for use in the U.S. due to a lack of evidence concerning its safety and efficacy. The muscle relaxant can cause lightheadedness and drowsiness, making it potentially unsafe for those who take it to operate a vehicle or perform other involving tasks. Nefopam has been linked to dizziness, hallucinations, rapid heart rate, seizures and other adverse events.
The FDA advises consumers who have purchased any of these products to discontinue use and throw them away. See more on their reports at www.fda.gov.
Patients have every reason to be wary of the supplement aisle. Before purchasing a pain relief supplement, do your research; seek out reputable companies that provide thorough information about the ingredients used and where they come from. Know what you’re taking in order to protect yourself against side effects and drug interactions.