Voltarene, Smecta, Toplexil… the 2023 list of drugs “more dangerous than useful”

Every year, the professional journal “Prescrire” prepares a blacklist of drugs that are not recommended, established through a risk-benefit analysis. This year, 88 are marketed in France.

“Treasurer for better care”. This is the motto of the independent trade journal Prescribe which every year publishes an updated list of drugs that are considered more dangerous than effective and useful. This year, she points to 107 medicines, of which 88 are marketed in France, with permission from the competent authorities.

That kind of blacklist medicines are established for patients, but also for health professionals to “help them choose quality care”, “not to harm patients” and to avoid “running” them “disproportionate risks” .

Some common substances

In this list are medicines that are widely used and found in pharmacy chests in France. As an illustration, Maxilase and Rhinadvil are listed, which are used for sore throats because they are exposed to allergic or skin disorders, sometimes severe.

Another example: Toplexil, widely given to fight coughs in children, is not recommended by the review Prescribe because it “exposes disproportionately unwanted effects in the symptomatic treatment of cough”.

Similarly, Voltaren exposes you to an increase in adverse cardiovascular effects (including myocardial infarction, heart failure) and death of cardiovascular origin compared to other NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory agents) as effective,” the review continues.

Three new ones on the list

In fact, the contributors to this list – as far as possible – try to advise alternatives.

For Smecta, for example, not recommended because of its natural lead contamination, “in cases of uncomplicated gastroesophageal reflux, other drugs have a favorable risk-benefit balance, such as the combination of sodium bicarbonate and sodium alginate (Gaviscon or Other).”

It is also recommended to take paracetamol rather than Maxilase.

The list covers many areas of medicine such as oncology, cardiology, gynecology or psychiatry.

In 2023, three new medicines will be on the way blacklist medications to exclude: peanut protein (Palforzia), roxadustat (Evrenzo), and tincture of opium (Dropizal). They were added “because the undesirable effects to which they are exposed are disproportionate to the efficiency gains they bring”.

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