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Concerned Physicians at Renowned Clinic Warn Consumers of Possible Permanent Hearing Loss from Extensive Use of Painkillers

LOS ANGELES/PRNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by the House Ear Clinic:


In a retrospective observation conducted at the House Ear Clinic (HEC) in Los Angeles, physicians have found a possible correlation between permanent hearing loss and a commonly prescribed painkiller medication that combines hydrocodone and acetaminophen. This combination medication is distributed under various names including the brands Vicodin(R), Hydrocet(R), Lorcet(R), Norco(R) and their generic counterparts. Over the past two years HEC physicians have identified as many as 29 patients with moderate to profound hearing loss possibly resulting from extensive use of these painkillers. This unusually high incidence prompted the physicians to report their observations of this side effect to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and to alert consumers.

"We feel that it is our duty to warn the public that permanent hearing loss may result from prolonged or excessive use of painkillers that combine hydrocodone and acetaminophen," said John W. House, M.D. "Recent media reports indicate that many people are becoming dependent on medications originally prescribed to treat temporary or chronic pain and we feel that their lives may be further complicated by loss of hearing."

In April 1999 HEC physicians presented an initial report of the Clinic's observations at the American Academy of Otolaryngology Meeting in Palm Springs, CA. An update of this report is being prepared for presentation at the Triologic meeting in Pasadena, CA in January 2002. Since HEC physicians became aware that prolonged painkiller use was a common factor in several cases of sudden hearing loss, a more detailed evaluation of similar cases possibly involving this type of medication has become a priority.

The House Ear Clinic is one of the largest medical practices dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and related disorders. This enables the eight ear specialists on staff to evaluate a population whose disease profiles might not be immediately obvious in general care settings. Observation of an HEC patient group who reported extensive painkiller use suggests that these medications may cause progressive hearing loss -- even after cessation of drug use. It also appears that individual susceptibility may play a significant role in the incidence of permanent hearing loss as a side effect.

SOURCE House Ear Clinic

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