Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a disease of the lungs that can cause heart failure and death, and it’s being linked to an increasing number of common and oft-prescribed drugs. The journal Prescrire, reports that, as of 2020, amphetamines, immunosuppressants, certain cancer medications, and a handful of other select medications have been found to provoke this sometimes deadly lung disease.
The most disturbing finding is that pulmonary arterial hypertension is often diagnosed long after taking a specific drug. In 2010, 2,967 patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension were analyzed, and a drug purportedly caused only 10.5% of the cases. Though that percentage is high enough to alarm most people, Prescrire suspects that the number of cases of pulmonary arterial hypertension linked to prescription drugs is probably higher. The journal points to a 2016 analysis of 1,273 cases of lung disease attributed to benfluorex (Mediator), a diabetes drug. Of those confirmed cases, half of them were reported nine years after initial exposure to the drug.
This means that you or a loved one may take one of the associated drugs, develop pulmonary arterial hypertension, and not know that the medication you’re on is the cause. In some cases, there are alternative drugs that might be just as effective and not risk heart failure. Other drugs may not have a substitute, and you and your doctor may decide that the risk is worth the benefit. In that case, you will know to watch for early signs of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Here’s a list of drugs, according to Prescrire, that is known to be linked to pulmonary arterial hypertension. If you or a loved one is taking any of the medication and are concerned about pulmonary arterial hypertension, talk to a medical professional.
Amphetamines: Fenfluramine, benfluorex, phentermine, Daytrana, Quillivant XR, AptensioXR (methylphenidate).
Chemotherapy drugs/Antineoplastics: Sorycel (dasatinib), Zirabev (bevacizumab), thalidomide
Immunosuppressants: Lenflunomide, belatacept, omalizumab, interferons
Other drugs: Solvadi (sofosbuvir), Noxafil (posaconazole), anagrelide, egrot derivatives, fampridine, diazoxide