Every medicine ingested for treatment of a particular disease comes with side effects. These side effects may be negligible and not quantifiable, to mild or moderate but can also turn serious. Be it an over the counter medication or a prescribed one, both can have side effects. Even after the drug is approved by the FDA, side effects are known to occur. However, on rare occasions, the side effects are far more troublesome than the actual illness it was intended to treat, serious enough to cause even death.

Every year nearly 4.5 million people in America visit their doctor or undergo emergency hospitalisation due to side effects of prescribed drugs. All the new drugs are scrutinised by the American Food and Drug administration (FDA) before they are sold in pharmacies and approved for use by doctors. Only those drugs, whose advantages far surpass the disadvantages are given the green signal to be released in the market. Once in the market, further reports regarding the effects of drugs are collected from the physicians, based upon their experience.

Following are 5 drugs with the most serious complications:

Generic  name – Pramiprexole

Indications-This drug is prescribed for Parkinson’s. The effects produced by this drug are same as dopamine. Hence, it is effectively used in the treatment of Parkinson related problems like stiffness, tremors, poor muscle control, etc

The complications/potential side effects of this drug include-

a- Hallucinations1.

b- Drowsiness, suddenly falling asleep.

c- Increased and irregular heart rate.

d- Breathlessness with minimal exertion, cough with sputum.

e- Rapid weight loss

f- Loss of appetite, weakness, with fever like symptoms.

g- Tremors, pain and tenderness of muscles.

h- Involuntary movements of hands, legs, fingers etc.

Less severe side effects known are forgetfulness, insomnia, decreased appetite, nausea, dry mouth, impotence etc. 

Generic name – Fluticasone (nasal)

Indications-It is used as a nasal spray, to treat symptoms of allergic rhinitis like sneezing, coryza, itching etc. It acts by preventing the release of inflammation producing substances.

Side effects-

  1. Bloody mucus, nose bleeds2
  2. Cough, breathlessness etc.
  3. Vomiting.

Less severe side effects are stomach ache, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, weakness etc.

Side effects due to overdose-

  1. Blindness, blurred vision.
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Bone fractures
  4. Amenorrhoea, hirsutism.

 Generic name – Isotretinoin

Indications – This drug is used in cases of severe acne and seems to have helped in 80% of the cases. It is prescribed for people above 12 yrs of age.

The complications/potential side effects of this drug include:

  1. Crohn’s disease3
  2. Depression.
  3. Tendency to miscarriage and birth defects if consumed during pregnancy.
  4. Liver damage

Generic name-Norethindrone.

Indications-It is used as an oral contraceptive by gynaecologists.

The complications/potential side effects of this drug include:

  1. Increase in cardio vascular diseases.
  2. Liver and gall bladder diseases.
  3. Stroke.
  4. Clotting disorders4.

The risk increases in people suffering from blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, clotting defects, stroke, chest pain or cancers.

Generic name – Aripiprazole

Indications-It is employed in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

The complications/potential side effects of this drug include:

  1. Anxiety and agitation5.
  2. Headache
  3. Insomnia
  4. Blurred Vision.
  5. Constipation
  6. Vague feeling in the stomach, nausea and vomiting.
  7. Sexual dysfunction

Rare side effects include allergic reactions, sustained painful erections, suicidal thoughts, postural hypotension etc.

Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria 


1-The Rx list. The internet drug index.






4-PDR health


5-Medical News Today