3/02/2005

What medicines are REALLY safe??

For decades medicines have been approved by the FDA and later recalled because of serious side effects, even death. So how do we know which ones are safe and which ones are hazardous to our health? There is no real way to know for sure, but the smart thing to do would be not to start taking a new "miracle drug" right as it hits the market. Wait it out a year or two until all of the drugs side effects have been discovered, and then decide for yourself if it's worth the risk. The medicine making industry is huge. After all, the money is in the medicine not the cure right?

One of the more recent discoveries is that the FDA has now issued a warning for naproxen, based on the evidence of some cardiac risk. Naproxen is a heavy duty NSAID more commonly known as the headache medicine Alieve. It is also sold under some other cheap generic brands.

This is just one example of a commonly used drug that we assume is safe and has no risks, but really can pose a threat to our health. What should we do about this problem? One possible solution to help lower the risk is to recall our commonly used medicines a few at a time and re-run them through the several layers of the FDA approval process. Even then, if they missed the risks the first time, can we really depend on them to catch them the second time through?

6 comments:

ron said...

For most drugs released into the market there is extensive research done. It takes years for a drug to go from research to the market. Nearly all side effects are known to the producer before it is on the market. The reason for the all of the recalls is that the media blows the risk out of proportion. Because of the over reaction, perceptions are changed even though the risks are still low enough to have the drug on the market, and it becomes necessary for the producer to pull it off the market.

Vincent said...

Maybe we should also look at the process the FDA goes through to approve new drugs. Did you know that pharmaceutical companies pay a lot of money to the FDA in order to speed up the process of approving drugs, (what they do is indirectly pay the salaries of FDA employees) this may cause a conflict of interest within the FDA to pressure approvals and look the other way at what are considered to be minor reactions as they did with Vioxx

Luise said...

If we are going to start pulling drugs off there would be no drugs available for any diseases, illnesses, viruses, infections, syndromes, disorders and ailments. Every medicine has a side affect on someone. For instance I was on glucophage for 6 months and weird things started to happen to my body so my doctor ran random tests. The result was that I am 1 out of 100,000 people allergic to it. What are the odds? The point is that the odds are there.
Penicillin is the most widely used antibiotic. The truth is that one out of five people have a deadly reaction to it, me being one of them. Tylenol will eventually shut your kidneys down (if you take enough of it), and aspirin can cause rye syndrome in children if taken before the age of 12.
Penicillin, Tylenol and Aspirin are all drugs that have been around for longer then most of the people in our class have been alive. A solution to the problem is that doctors can be more thorough when performing checkups and prescribing a drug to a patient.

Luise said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stockton said...

I agree with the poster in that the drug industry, including the FDA, is all about the money. Yes, drugs may undergo a lot of testing before they reach the market, but they still release drugs that they know will have serious side effects and possibly cause death. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? Drugs are beneficial yes, but maybe we ought to look at the underlying cause of the problem. For example, if your car engine light comes on and says you are low on oil, do you add or change the oil or do you unplug the light that keeps flashing? I think we've forgotten that-there is more to why we are sick.The drugs are there to simply alleviate the problem for a while-not necessaraliy solve them.

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on Jones post and Vincent's comment for a spelling and grammatical errors.

Is anything really safe? The way to balance safety is by letting marginal costs balance marginal benefits. Individuals have trouble measuring both of those, but there isn't much evidence that the FDA can do a better job.

Fuller public information about what people with certain characteristics take, and what the results are, would help - but we are actually moving in the opposite direction from this.

This is another example of the problems brought up by public choice economics: in democracies, minorities with relatively large benefits or costs will be able to get what they want at the expense of majorities with relatively smaller benefits or costs.