Consumers may be unaware that commonly used drugs, chemicals and ingredients approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are outlawed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). That's because the FDA and EMA regulation processes, which are both meant to protect consumers, are vastly different.

The nation’s medication-safety watchdog has been on a drug-approval spree of late. Last year, the FDA greenlighted more drugs than it had in over two decades.

Buzzfeed compared FDA and EMA approvals, and it found European regulators have banned more than 1,300 chemicals.  The FDA, however, has only outlawed or restricted 11.

Here are three examples of popular medications and consumer products outlawed by the EMA.


Avandia and Actos are diabetes drugs used to treat blood sugar. Avandia was once the world’s top-selling diabetes prescriptions. Research has uncovered deadly side effects, linking Avandia to heart attacks and Actos to cancer.

What’s the problem?

In 2007, a New England Journal of Medicine analysis found Avandia increased heart attack risks by 43 percent. When additional studies affirming the drug’s dangers, it was pulled from the European market.

While the FDA has agreed that Actos increases the risk of bladder cancer, the drug is still sold to American consumers—even as European countries have banned or restricted the diabetes medicine.

Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents (GBCAs)

Gadolinium-based contrast agents, widely used in magnetic resonance imaging procedures, are injected or administered as a drink prior to a scan. GBCAs may remain in the body, potentially causing a number of long-lasting complications.

What’s the problem?

Gadolinium is a metal, and the latest science has found it builds up in the brain. GBCAs are linked to health conditions, including gadolinium deposition disease and nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. Individuals with weak kidneys or allergies are more sensitive to GBCAs and prone to develop complications.

In July 2007, the EMA took action to regulate three specific GBCAs used in MRI scans: Magnevist (gadopentetic acid), Omniscan (gadodiamide), and OptiMark (gadoversetamide). Additionally, the agency restricted MultiHance (gadobenic acid) to liver scans only.

Talcum Powder

The mineral in talcum powder, talc is a common ingredient in cosmetics, body wash and deodorant. Up to 40 percent of women use some form of the mineral during their everyday routine.

What’s the problem?

Decades of research have linked talc to ovarian cancer and other aggressive forms of cancer. The EMA considers talc products too dangerous for humans.

Featured Photo by Fernando on Unsplash