Some days I think I am living in Spielberg's THX1138 . Advertisements pelt us continually with news about one drug or another. Each new drug seems to be a miracle cure for whatever might ail us. Each ad suggests you "ask your doctor" about the drug. The inference is to ask your doctor to prescribe it.
With the wealth of information at our fingertips today, it's easy to second-guess the professionals. Yet, before you ask your doctor to prescribe a drug, ask your doctor what he or she knows about it.
At his last appointment, my husband asked our doctor if he could switch from one drug to another drug that he had recently seen advertised. Our doctor said no. Not because the drug was wrong for his condition, but because the company had not done a conclusive study and the drug had not been on the market long enough to judge whether its benefits were worth the risks of possible side effects, some of which could be fatal.
Soon after, we started seeing class action advertisements for this drug, which has now been pulled from the market. It is chilling that this drug was ever marketed at all. While the FDA website explains how the system is supposed to work, from the number of class-action lawsuits filed against big pharma, it is clear that the system does not work.
This is the way the system is supposed to work:
Before a drug can be marketed to the public, its parent company must provide proof to the FDA that it has been tested, first in animals and then in humans. If the FDA concludes that the drug's benefits outweigh its risks, the agency releases the drug to the public.
Because they realize that some drugs will fall through the cracks,the FDA has an after-market program. Medwatch collects voluntary input from health care professionals, consumers, and patients on adverse drug effects.
Unfortunately, though, it looks like these days the cracks have become a chasm. For every new drug advertisement, there is a new commercial about a lawsuit.Let's face it. Right now big pharma is keeping a lot of lawyers in business. If the FDA is a consumer protection agency, it seriously needs to up its game.
Read more on this subject
- “Common Drug Side Effects: Types of Side Effects and FDA Regulations.” Accessed May 17, 2016. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/drug-side-effects-explained.
- “Information for Consumers (Drugs) > Approved Drugs: Questions and Answers.” Accessed May 13, 2016. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm054420.htm.