The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a federal agency responsible for protecting public health by ensuring the safety of drugs and proper labeling of drugs, recently issued a warning regarding the use of an oral and rectal sodium phosphate laxative. Montana residents may be shocked to learn that according to the FDA, approximately 54 cases of serious side effects, including about 13 deaths, have been documented due to the use of the laxative.

According to reports the over-the-counter laxative, which is used by many to relieve symptoms of constipation and promote a bowel movement, has dangerous side effects if not taken as instructed or if taken by people with certain medical conditions. Such side effects include but are not limited to dehydration, not having a bowel movement after taking the laxative, potential kidney injury such as swelling of ankles, lack of urination and fatigue.

A medical officer from the FDA’s nonprescription regulation division notes that harmful side effects have been seen in people taking more than the recommended dosage of the medication. Thus, the FDA has urged people to take the appropriate dosage and pay close attention to any adverse reactions they may experience. If anyone taking the laxative exhibits symptoms of an adverse reaction, they should immediately contact their health care provider and seek medical attention.

The laxative is available as a generic, and it does not require a prescription. The FDA has urged anyone over 55 year of age, children or those taking kidney medications to consult with a doctor before taking the sodium phosphate laxative.

Furthermore, for anyone who has experienced a serious side effect from taking this laxative or any other drug, may want to consult with a product liability attorney to evaluate one’s specific facts, to ascertain one’s legal options against the drug manufacturer and to determine if adequate warnings were provided on the label.

Source: Huffington Post, “FDA Says There Have Been 13 Laxative-Related Deaths,” Jan. 8, 2014