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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Needed: a law to limit drug side effects

Watching ABC News with Diane Sawyer, while a comprehensive package with insightful reporting, one is besieged by commercials for pharmaceutical products. And with each different item, no matter the target of its attack, arthritis, indigestion, sleeplessness, bad cholesterol, premature ageing....the formula for the copy is the same. Check with your doctor, and note the potential side effects. It is this last part of the message that is most disturbing.
One recent TV spot shouted the benefits of the antidepressant, seroquel, with one of the potential side effects, "it could result in death"....and even for this little mind, it was time to wake up!
Is it not time for legislators (most of whom in the U.S., of course, have been bought off by the pharmaceutical industry as well as by various other industries like insurance) to get serious about the minimal research that drug companies are required to conduct prior to the release of these drug onto the consumer market?
For example, could those legislators not require a cap on the nature of the potential side effects? For example, "No drug permitted for sale can possess the potential to injure or take the life of the consumer."
It seems that the Hippocratic Oath, which correctly directs doctors to "do no harm" is a minimum we can expect from those intent on producing chemical cocktails for our enhanced health.
Is it not time, also, for some enterprising scientist to conduct a study on the costs of "bad reactions" to the drugs that have already been permitted for sale on the open market? Or would such a study never receive the kind of funding it merits simply because the industry lobbyists would create such a political storm that the politicians would all run for cover and let the idea die before it saw the light of day?
How many class action law suits have been successfully prosecuted against the pharmaceutical industry, and how many lives have been seriously impaired or lost entirely, as a direct result of the ingestion of "bad chemistry"? And just how high are the costs of these injuries, the resulting medical and surgical interventions, not to mention the costs of the loss of life?
There is an old Latin phrase that seems appropriate for all potential medical patients...and that includes everyone....caveat emptor (buyer beware)! And it certainly applies to all purchases and consumption of all medicines.

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