Dangerous Side Effects Associated with Spiriva HandiHaler

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Posted: October 28, 2008

According to the research article, “Inhaled Anticholinergics and Risk of Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” written by Sonal Singh, MD; Yoon K. Loke, MD; and Curt D. Furberg, MD, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people using the Spiriva inhaler possibly face the following risks: cardiac death, heart attacks or strokes. Alarmingly, the risks are greater for the Spiriva inhaler users than inhaler users using a placebo or other drugs. This study published in the September 24, 2008 issue of JAMA denotes that although the risks were small, the popular inhalers could lead to potentially life threatening side effects. The German Manufacturer, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. makes Spiriva Handihaler (tiotropium) and the generic drug for Atrovent, Ipratropium, approved for treating COPD. In the United States, they have a joint marketing partnership with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. In 2004, the inhaler was approved for a daily long-term treatment of bronchospasm, which is linked with COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is important to note that both drugs have been used by approximately 8 million people worldwide. They are both known for helping to open passages and preventing spasms that decrease airways in the lungs to increase effective breathing. The JAMA article details how authors, Sonal Singh, MD; Yoon K. Loke, MD; and Curt D. Furberg, MD analyzed the data from 17 randomized studies, and compared it to primarily older people on either Spiriva or Ipratropium, to people using placebos or other drugs. Their research found that patients had an increased risk over 50% in developing both fatal and non fatal heart problems, including heart attacks when they used Ipratropium or Spiriva. Researchers are quick to add that additional studies are required to further evaluate the safety of the drugs. However, they recommended individuals with COPD to take precautionary measure prior to starting drug therapy that includes stop smoking, control blood pressure and cholesterol and the use of oxygen. There was a statement issued by Boehringer and Pfizer indicating that disagreed with the analysis of the new study. They cited an analysis of 30 clinical trials that confirmed the safety of the Spiriva Handihaler and that showed no increased risk of all-cause death or cardiovascular death to the inhaler users. However, the Food and Drug Administration, FDA issued an early communication in March 2008, that indicated they are evaluating the potential connection between the side effects of the the Spiriva Handihaler and strokes. The March 2008 FDA communication was quick to point out that their investigation was precautionary and did not mean that Spiriva causes strokes. They encouraged people on the drugs to not stop taking their drug based on the FDA early communication, in March but to wait until they have confirmed conclusions and recommendations. We can only hope that the FDA’s conclusions will not be too late for some individuals.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed as a result of a dangerous and defective product, we urge you to call Hickey Law Firm, P.A. today at 855-375-3727. We can review your case free of charge and devise an effective course of action. Rest assured that we will work tirelessly on your behalf to hold the responsible party liable and make sure that the product is made safer in the future.