Consumer News

Xanax Recall 2019: Possible Contamination Puts Patients At Risk

The multibillion-dollar medicine-manufacturing giant, Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., has recalled a specific batch of the widely prescribed anti-anxiety medication for short-term benefits, Alprazolam, popularly sold under the brand name Xanax, on October 25. 

A voluntary recall was initiated, fearing the possible presence of a foreign substance that has potentially “remote risk of infection” in the Alprazolam tablets, USP C-IV 0.5 mg, which were packaged in bottles of 500 and distributed countrywide between July 2019 and August 2019. Distributors, wholesalers and consumers were warned through the company’s public notice published on the FDA’s website. 

The company has neither named the substance nor explained how it got into this batch, though they have maintained that the clinical impact is rare and minimal. So far, no adverse events related to this batch and the product itself have been reported. The move is more of a precaution, rather than an emergency because people do have a tendency to abuse the drug for years, which is meant to be taken for a few weeks.   

Addiction and Risks

As this development comes amid the opioid crisis, it also throws light on addiction to other prescription medication. Addiction to benzodiazepines has been steadily rising over the years. Studies have even associated overuse of benzodiazepines, including Valium and Ativan among others, with an increased risk of cancer and dementia. 

pills Painkiller medications may not be as harmless as you are led to believe. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Xanax regulates the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor, which is an amino acid and neurotransmitter that controls excitement and energy in the brain. A calmness washes over once the medication is consumed and activates dopamine, which is identical to the reward pathways activated by opioids, hence overuse can turn problematic. It can accumulate in the body over a period of time and increase the risk of an accidental overdose. 

When “under the influence” of Xanax at safe levels prescribed by the doctor, it still poses side effects that people experience inevitably. Some of them include memory loss, blurred vision, lack of focus, falling, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, sweating, hip fractures and premature death. Driving after taking Xanax could lead to accidents as well. 

Apart from these mild side effects, serious ones can affect people too. They include mental health problems such as depression and suicidal thoughts. It may also cause seizures, tremor, chest pain, jaundice, irregular heartbeat and changes in urination patterns. 

It can interfere with other medication since it is sometimes prescribed in combination with other drugs. The chances of side effects increase when taken along with barbiturates, sedatives or hypnotics, antihistamines, antacids, anesthetics and analgesics.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, elders and children are advised to avoid it altogether because it could turn dangerous in some cases. 

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