Aspirin – Wonder Drug or Not?

My uncle was a pharmacist for 50 years, and I remember him telling me that if aspirin had been discovered today, it would definitely be a prescription medication because of all its different applications. But, as multi-faceted as aspirin is, aspirin maker Bayer may have gotten a bit carried away with its health claims.

According to an October 28, 2008, article in the New York Times, the Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters to Bayer regarding the validity of marketing claims for two of its products: Bayer Women’s Low Dose Aspirin + Calcium and Bayer Aspirin with Health Advantage. Bayer claims the products help fight heart disease and osteoporosis, but the FDA was never provided evidence to prove these claims. In addition, medications for heart disease and osteoporosis must go through a thorough review process and cannot be sold without a prescription. Bayer argues that the claims were not meant to circumvent medical advice and that it was not their intention to violate any FDA regulations, as the FDA suggests.

The primary use of aspirin is for the treatment of aches, pain, and mild inflammation. It is also used as a blood thinner and may provide protection against stroke and heart attacks. Other claims, many of which have yet to be substantiated, include taking aspirin as a cancer preventative.