Relafen is classified as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). NSAIDs work to reduce the hormones in the body which cause inflammation and pain. Relafen is prescribed to treat the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. It is manufactured by SmithKline Beecham and was approved by the FDA in 2001.

Relafen has been associated with serious side effects, especially if taken while pregnant. This drug has been seen to cause birth defects when taken late in pregnancy. In one study, researchers found that newborns exposed to Relafen in the womb were 30-80 percent more likely to be born with a cleft lip or palate. Other side effects that have been seen in newborns include clubfoot, amniotic band syndrome, birth defects of the eyes and spina bifida.

Relafen has also been linked to the serious and sometimes fatal skin disease Stevens Johnson syndrome. This disease can cause skin rash, peeling and sores on the mucous membranes. If SJS is severe, the skin can actually peel off in large areas of the body.

Serious side effects include:

  • Chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance
  • Black, bloody, or tarry stools
  • Coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Swelling or rapid weight gain
  • Urinating less than usual or not at all
  • Nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red
  • Skin rash
  • Bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Upset stomach, mild heartburn or stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation
  • Bloating, gas
  • Dizziness, headache, nervousness
  • Skin itching or rash
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in your ears
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