Dr. Mike: Good Side Effects Of Certain Medications - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Dr. Mike: Good Side Effects Of Certain Medications

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PHILADELPHIA -

Seems every few days, we hear about a negative side effect from a medication; stuff that scares the daylights out of people. But not as often do we talk about the good side effects: medicines designed to treat one medical issue, but also doing good elsewhere in the body.

FOX 29 will take a look at how multi-purpose pills are pleasantly surprising doctors and patients in unusual ways.

"A warning tonight..." That's the phrase that we hear all the time, yet another warning about a bad side effect of a common medication.

But what we don't hear much about are all those "good" side effects that doctors say we can get from meds that are designed for one ailment.

"That's absolutely correct… and I do it all the time," says Dr. Mike.

Doctor Mike Cirigliano ran down a host of commonly prescribed "multi-purpose pills".

One example is Topiramate also known as Topamax.

"For seizures, but it's also useful in migraine headaches and also for weight loss," explains Dr. Mike.

Another example is Propanolol, also known as Inderal:

"This is a drug that has significant effects on both blood pressure, but also can be very effective for stage fright," he says. "It can slow your heart rate down if you're having skipped beats or if you're having palpitations[. W]hat you do is you take it an hour before you get on stage and it works like a charm for most people."

Doctor Mike has written medical papers on these kinds of pill perks or multi-uses and says he gets more excited learning something new that one pill can do.

"It's all the art of medicine," he says. "Wonderful medication!"

Aspirin gets Dr. Mike really fired up, way beyond "an aspirin a day may keep a heart attack away."

"Did you know though that it can also help reduce the risk of colon cancer?" he tells us.

It's still scary for many people who break out in a sweat every time their doctor writes a script of any kind, and they read the long list of possible negative side effects.

"There are always some potential risks with anything, but if the benefits outweigh the risks then you DO IT, recommends Dr. Mike.

By law, patients must be made aware of the potential risks. But according to the FDA, potential benefits and other possible uses cannot be advertised.

Companies cannot market medicine beyond the purposes or labeling approved by the FDA, no matter how well it works for something different.

"It's an off-label indication," says Dr. Mike.

However, doctors are allowed to prescribe medicines and treatments "off-label," using caution and taking responsibility.

"Many times, we don't know how a particular medication works. We know that it works from clinical trials, but exact mechanism, the biological mechanism, is sometimes not known," admits Dr. Mike. "Anything that you put into your mouth gets into your stomach and absorbed and has effects throughout the body."

And these surprisingly good side effects, says Dr. Mike, often allow physicians to have a way to cure what ails patients when there's no standard medication that works.

"There's always a couple of ways to skin the cat, so if you're allergic to a medicine, then you need to figure out a way with your healthcare provider on how to get around that and come up with an alternative plan."

No medication should ever be taken lightly, but Dr. Mike hopes that learning more about things, like research showing getting flu shots may cut your risk of stroke and heart disease almost in half, may encourage more people who really need it to take their medicine.

"And you make sure that you know why you are taking it. You take it properly in the right dosages at the right times and you will reap the benefits and reduce your risks," says Dr. Mike.

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