April 6, 2006
Popular Dietary Supplement – Saw Palmetto – No More Effective Than Sugar Pills, Public Citizen Reveals on WorstPills.org Web Site
“Worst Pills, Best Pills” Readers Also Receive Life-Saving Warnings About Dangerous Drugs Before They Are Removed From the Market
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Saw palmetto, a popular dietary supplement, is no more effective than sugar pills in treating urinary symptoms from an enlarged prostate, Public Citizen writes in a new April posting on its WorstPills.org Web site. The consumer advocacy organization cited recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine showing that the supplement did not improve symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
Saw palmetto is used by an estimated 2 million men in the United States for the treatment of moderate to severe symptoms of an enlarged prostate and is commonly recommended as an alternative to drugs approved for the disorder by the Food and Drug Administration. Common symptoms of an enlarged prostate include straining to urinate, needing to urinate two or more times per night, incontinence and pain with urination.
Researchers randomly assigned to two groups 225 men over the age of 49 who had moderate to severe symptoms of an enlarged prostate. The 112 men assigned to the saw palmetto group received one year of treatment with 160 milligrams twice daily. The other 113 men received an identical-looking placebo twice daily. The researchers concluded that “saw palmetto did not improve symptoms” of the condition.
The April updates to the WorstPills.org Web site also give consumers information about vision impairment associated with the diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia) and the combination of rosiglitazone with another diabetes drug, metformin (Avandamet). The Web site also warns consumers not to take the amino acid dietary supplement l-arginine after a heart attack.
Worst Pills, Best Pillsis a monthly newsletter available in print and electronic formats through Public Citizen’s Web site, www.WorstPills.org. The article about saw palmetto will be available free on the site for the next seven days. The site has other searchable information about the uses, risks and adverse effects associated with prescription medications, including all the information contained in Public Citizen’s best-selling 2005 book, Worst Pills, Best Pills.
“Worst Pills is an unbiased analysis of information from a variety of sources, including well-regarded medical journals and unpublished data obtained from the Food and Drug Administration that allow us to sound the alarm about potentially dangerous drugs long before they are banned by the federal government,” said Sidney Wolfe, M.D., director and founder of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.
The www.WorstPills.orgWeb site is particularly valuable because Public Citizen has a strong track record of identifying dangerous drugs well before federal regulators take action to ban or put warnings on these drugs. For example, Public Citizen warned consumers about the dangers of Vioxx, ephedra, Baycol and Propulsid years before they were pulled from the market.