Prescription Drugs Kill Large Numbers of Americans.
Prescription Drugs Kill Hundreds of Thousands of People Annually.
Hoax or Fact:
The health warning messages suggest that prescription drugs in United States kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. Yes, it is a fact, and a growing concern.
Rise in Prescription Drugs
According to a study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 7 out of 10 Americans take at least one prescription drug, the most commonly prescribed drugs being antibiotics, antidepressants and opioids (psychoactive drugs) in the same order. While the pharmaceutical industry has grown to a great extent, there have also been many issues pertaining to the quality and safety of the prescription drugs that are even approved by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
Clinical Trials Gone Outside U.S.
VanityFair.com reports the prescription drugs as a deadly medicine killing large number of Americans every year, and addresses several concerns. According to their study, most clinical trials today are conducted in less privileged overseas countries — on sick, homeless, and slum-dwelling people, where regulation is virtually nonexistent. This is because it is cheaper to run trials on local population, easier to recruit patients believing they are being treated for a disease, and a placebo can be given as part of the experiments.
Earlier, drugs were tested primarily either in the United States or in Europe. However, according to the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, 271 trials were conducted in foreign countries in 1990. By 2008, the number had significantly risen to 6,485. According to a database compiled by the National Institutes of Health, 58,788 such trials were identified in 173 countries outside the United States since 2000.
Experts point that the people in impoverished parts of the world may metabolize drugs differently from the way Americans do. They also point that the prevailing diseases in those countries, like Malaria and Tuberculosis, can falsify the outcome of clinical trials.
It's difficult for FDA to monitor these trials conducted outside the United States, and thereby “mistakes” can end up in graves. Also, regulations in many foreign countries are less stringent, and in some places, they do not even exist.
Examples OF Deaths Caused by Prescription Drugs
Avandia, a diabetes drug from GlaxoSmithKline was tested outside U.S. like in Iasi and Romania. The sales of the drug went high, but so did reports of adverse reactions like macular edema, liver injury, bone fractures, congestive heart failure and others. In 2009, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit group that monitors the prescription-drug field, has linked Avandia to the deaths of 1,354 people, based on reports filed with the FDA. The risk was so high that doctors inside and outside the FDA sought to have the drug removed from the market. FDA itself had estimated that the drug Avandia had caused more than 83,000 heart attacks between 1999 and 2007.
The pharmaceutical industry has been dismissing concerns about the reliability of clinical trials conducted outside U.S., in developing countries. But in 2007, when Canadian researchers reviewed the data from a clinical trial in Iran for a new heart drug, they discovered that many of the results were fraudulent.
Marketing Business in Pharmaceutical Industry
It is a known fact that the doctors who insist the drugs you take are perfectly safe may be getting financial benefit from the company selling them. Many drugs are used and prescribed today, and many patients receive multiple prescriptions at varying strengths, some of which may counteract each other. This effect may sometimes come into play after a long period of time.
In theory, the pharmaceutical companies cannot sell a drug for any purpose other than the one that the FDA has approved on the basis of its clinical testing. But in reality, once a drug gets approved by the FDA for a specific treatment, the sponsoring company and its allies start campaigns to promote it for other purposes.
Reports Show Growing Concerns
According to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, in 2009, 19,551 people died in the United States as a direct result of the prescription drugs they have taken. In 2010, more than half of fatal drug overdoses were reported to have caused by prescription medications. Among 38,329 people in the United States who died as a result of a drug overdose, 22,134 of them, i.e. 57 percent of the total, have died from prescription drugs. These are just the official numbers; experts believe very low percentage of such deaths is reported. As The New York Times reported, prescription drug overdose deaths have quadrupled in the period of 1999 to 2010.
Prescription drugs have become one of the major killers today, not just in America, even in other countries where the drugs are marketed. In fact many experts warn that prescription drugs are now killing far more people than illegal drugs.
Taking into account the aforementioned concerns, people should not blindly believe that a drug prescribed by a doctor is safe. Remember, it is your body, not your doctor's and not your pharmacist's, so choose your prescription medicine wisely - only when it is needed. Discuss the risks of any prescribed medication with your health care provider and pharmacist and weigh them against the possible benefit. It is also a good idea to look for natural treatments for common ailments, and more importantly, maintaining a healthy diet, exercise and positive lifestyle is the necessity of the modern day.
As far as the pharmaceutical industry is concerned, the reported medical progress doing more harm than good raises an ethical question against them. To make the prescription and medication process more effective and useful to the people, the drug testing and drug regulation should be made more effective.