Patients Suffer from Drug Ban

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned a heartburn medication in July not realizing many people counted on it to be able to eat.

Propulsid was pulled from shelves after 80 people died from irregular heartbeats. However, for some people suffering from more than just heartburn, the drug was their only method for pushing food through their intestines.

The drug helps activate electrical rhythms in the stomach to push food through the digestive tract. This is a treatment mainstay for those who suffer from partial digestive tract paralysis.

Diabetics, whose digestive tract progressively degrades, and those who suffer from severe cerebral palsy often need the drug to be able to eat. Officials at the FDA were quickly notified that they would have to do something to help those dependent on Propulsid.

Janssen Pharmacuetica, maker of Propulsid, and the FDA established a "compassionate-use" program for ill patients who are in a doctor's care. Janssen has shipped medication to 144 patients who qualify. However, the process of getting the necessary drugs is slow and many are suffering in the meantime.

The FDA is working on a system to speed up the process, including a 60-day emergency supply of pills before a patient is admitted into the program.

There are many restrictions to qualify for the drugs, but patients who can prove a compelling medical reason may soon find relief.

Information from the AP.