The heart medication Digoxin has been link to increased heart related deaths for the third time in as many years, bringing the drug back under scrutiny regarding its wide spread use.
Recent studies published in the Journal of The American College of Cardiology have associated an increase in deaths among patients taking the medication, who were recently diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AF), but had not previously suffered a heart attack. In fact, deaths among patients with AF taking Digoxin were more than double that of other Digoxin users.
Limited Evidence Digoxin is Effective Treating AF
Digoxin is commonly prescribed for the treatment of heart rate control in patients suffering from AF, a problem with heart rate or rhythm. It works by strengthening heart contractions to allow the heart to pump blood throughout the body. Digoxin is one of the oldest medications used to treat patients who have previously suffered a heart attack.
However, Digoxin is currently also used to treat patients who have not suffered a heart attack but are experiencing abnormal heart rates or rhythms, even though its use in this application had not been thoroughly studied.
Digoxin dosage is extremely specific and can be ineffective if too low a dosage is prescribed or lead to toxicity, called “digitalis toxicity,” if the dosage is too high. Between 2008 and 2009, digoxin was recalled in relationship to deaths resulting from digitalis toxicity.
Scientists are now warning that patients suffering from AF explore other treatment options. They are also calling for a full FDA review to determine the current efficacy of treating AF with Digoxin, as well as additional randomized studies to confirm previous findings.
Previous Digoxin Legal Battles
Makers of Digoxin and digitek have previously had legal troubles regarding toxicity and overdose related to the medications. Between 2008 and 2009, more than 650 deaths were reported due to digitalis toxicity. The drug was subsequently recalled by manufacturers amid reports that some of the medication may have been commercially released with twice the approved level of active ingredient
Despite the studies and current concerns, digoxin is still one of the most commonly prescribed medication for AF related heart problems. In fact, clinical guidelines recommend digoxin as the sole pharmaceutical treatment to control resting heart rates of sedentary people.
If you believe you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of using a dangerous pharmaceutical, it is important to contact a skilled medical product liability attorney who has successfully managed cases against large manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies.