Latest Tylenol Recall Adds to Arthritis Patients Woes

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If you have purchased Tylenol Arthritis Pain Caplet 100 count bottles, with the characteristic red EZ-OPEN CAP, note that McNeil Consumer Healthcare is voluntarily recalling all bottles of this product. This latest Tylenol recall, which is an expansion of an earlier recall made in November 2009 of only five lots of the pain reliever, adds to the frustrations often faced by arthritis patients.

Generally, arthritis is a chronic condition, associated with chronic pain and discomfort, limited mobility, and other symptoms. The two most common forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, affect about 27 million and 1.3 million Americans, respectively, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Most patients who suffer with arthritis use some sort of medication, over-the-counter and prescription, to manage their pain.

One of the most commonly used prescription drugs, Celebrex (celecoxib), has remained on the market even though its two cousins, Vioxx and Bextra, were pulled by the Food and Drug Administration because they were linked with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Vioxx was withdrawn in September 2004, and immediately after Bextra was required to have warning labels. It was then withdrawn from the market in April 2005 for the same reason Vioxx was pulled, plus it was associated with Stevens Johnson syndrome.

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That leaves Celebrex, which is prescribed to tens of millions of patients each year. According to the Celebrex website, this drug, although effective in relieving symptoms of arthritis, comes with many warnings. Among them, use of Celebrex “may increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke that can lead to death” and “serious skin reactions or stomach and intestine problems, such as bleeding and ulcers, can occur without warning and may cause death.” Although arthritis is a chronic condition, the makers of Celebrex warn that their product “should be used as prescribed at the lowest dose possible and for the shortest time needed.”

Along with concerns about medications, arthritis patients often are faced with the need to lose weight, which studies show would reduce their symptoms. For some patients, this is a catch-22 situation: they need adequate pain relief in order to exercise to help them lose weight, yet chronic use of drugs is associated with side effects, which causes some individuals to stop taking or reduce their use of the medications. Reduced use of medications means more pain, which means less desire to exercise, and the weight stays on. Medical studies show that just moderate exercise along with proper diet can result in significant weight loss and thus offer pain relief for people who have arthritis.

It should also come as no surprise that people who experience chronic pain are at greater risk of depression. A recent study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, reported that 39 percent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis had at least moderate depression.

The latest Tylenol recall is just another thorn in the side of people with arthritis who are already suffering with chronic pain. For arthritis sufferers (and other consumers) who have purchased Tylenol Arthritis Pain Caplet 100 count, they can get a refund or replacement by calling 1-888-222-6036 Monday through Friday from 8AM to 8PM EST; Saturday and Sunday from 9AM to 5PM EST. An alternative method is to use the email contact form available on the Tylenol website. For a complete list of the product lot numbers of the recalled Tylenol Arthritis Pain Caplet 100 count bottles, consumers can visit the website. Lot numbers can be found on the side of the bottle label.

SOURCES:
Arthritis Foundation
Celebrex website
Margaretten M et al. Predictors of depression in a multi-ethnic cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Presented at American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting Oct. 25-29, 2008.
Tylenol website

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