According to a recent study, a supplement used for many years to treat high levels of bad cholesterol may be seriously harmful to patients.
Niacin, or vitamin B3, has been a popular treatment in reducing the chances for a stroke or heart attack in patients with high cholesterol by raising the levels of HDL cholesterol – commonly known as the “good” cholesterol. For many patients, Niacin in extended-release fashion has also been used in treatment as a prescription drug.
The New England Journal of Medicine in July 2014 released the findings of a study that questions the benefits of Niacin and highlights its dangers.
Study: Niacin Provides No Benefits
The study included over 25,000 people between the ages of 50 and 80 who had high cholesterol. A portion of the group was treated with the prescription form of Niacin and others were given a placebo. The study found that the drug did not provide any medical benefits while raising the risk of dire health consequences, including diabetes, liver problems, and death.
The good news to report is that the findings were presented last year before being published and a drug maker agreed then to pull its extended-release Niacin from the market.
However, the researchers recommend that patients stop using Niacin the supplement, as it poses the same serious, even fatal health risks.
Dietary supplements, like vitamins and so-called “herbal remedies,” are not subject to federal approval as are prescription drugs. This is because supplements are considered food. Drugs must undergo rigorous testing before being sold. The Food and Drug Administration, responsible for approving drugs, assumes that all drugs are harmful until proven otherwise.
It’s the reverse for dietary supplements.
Dietary Supplements Considered Safe until Patient Harm Found
The FDA assumes supplements are safe. It only investigates supplements after allegations of patient harm. Clinical trials aren’t required before a dietary supplement is marketed.
That can leave the public at the mercy of unscrupulous supplementary wholesalers and retailers. At this point, no one is doubting the intentions of the sellers of vitamin B3. New evidence simply has come out that counters previous presumptions within the medical community.
But there may be businesses selling harmful supplements that are aware of the health risks. Their desire to make a buck comes well ahead of consumer safety.
Attorneys hold companies responsible for defective products and protect consumer rights through litigation. If you’ve been harmed by a defective consumer product, you may want to consult one.