Medicine Information

Relafen: A New Drug with an Old Danger


Individuals who regularly take Relafen (nabumetone) or other anti-inflammatory medications, either for arthritis, joint pain, or other indications, should be aware of severe adverse health implications that can potentially result from prolonged use. Relafen is usually prescribed for osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness, but can also be prescribed for other purposes. Relafen works by reducing the level of hormones in the body that can cause pain and inflammation. In addition to the warnings provided with the packaging of the medication and those related by a physician, there are other important concerns that users of Relafen should know about.

A severe adverse reaction called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome has been linked to use of the drug Relafen. Relafen is in a class of drugs known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) that have been linked to allergic skin reactions, including severe cases such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Other possible allergic reactions include urticaria, dyspnea, anaphylaxis, and the severe symptoms associated with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a severe allergic reaction to certain drugs. In addition to NSAIDs, antibiotics such as sulfonamides, tetracycline, amoxicillin, and ampicillin have been implicated. The symptoms of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome typically begin as some form of upper respiratory infection, including also fever, sore throat, inflammation of the mouth, chills, headaches, aching of the joints, and generally feeling ill. After onset, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome will continue to develop, affecting the various mucous membranes of the body, including the mouth, esophagus, nostrils, eyes, genitals, and anal regions. Lesions may develop and the skin may blister or even detach in severe cases.

If any of these symptoms lead to the belief that the onset of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is occurring, immediate treatment is imperative. Sufferers of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome should be transported to an emergency room immediately, and will likely be treated in a intensive care burn unit. Even after treatment, long-term effects of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome can include scarring, eye and vision problems, and even death. Some studies predict a 3-15% mortality rate in individuals with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome if left untreated. Any individuals with a known family history of adverse drug reactions, even if minor, should carefully consult with their physicians before taking Relafen or other anti-inflammatory drugs. Above all, it is crucial to be fully aware of all risks associated with the use of any drug.

For more information regarding Relafen (nabumetone)/Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, please click here


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