Drug companies - page 2 - page 1

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Think you know for sure that the drug you are taking is absolutely safe? Think again. Many drugs spend years on the market before being taken off the market because of dangerous side-effects which surface.

Aggressive marketing, slanting research, unethical publishing of results, influencing physicians, intimidating researchers, pressuring medical centers, manipulating the FDA, limiting information, marketing drugs with inaccurate safety information - all of these have created an environment in which drug development has become a race for the bottom line.

Knowing how the drug companies operate, it is no surprise when new dangers are revealed with drugs we've been using for decades and drugs are subsequently taken off the market.

Some of these withdrawn drugs, such as 'Redux', 'Seldane', 'Propulsid', 'Rezulin' , were prescribed MILLIONS OF TIMES. According to Dr. Alastair J.J. Wood, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (1), a staggering 19.8 million patients (almost 10% of the United States population) were estimated to have been exposed to just 5 of the 10 drugs withdrawn in the past 10 years. (see below for the list)
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Dr. Wood added, "None of the drugs was indicated for a life-threatening condition nor, in many cases, were they the only drugs available for that indication".(2) Safer alternatives to these drugs existed, but intense marketing convinced doctors to prescribe them anyway.

Drug companies can profit handsomely from such drugs. 'Seldane', the top-selling antihistamine in the world for more than a decade, was on the market for 13 years until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed it in 1997, 7 years after the drug's cardiac toxicities were identified in 1990 (3).

Rezulin', a diabetes drug withdrawn by Britain in 1997, wasn't withdrawn by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) until 2000, during which time Warner-Lambert earned $1.8 billion (4).

10 prescription drugs withdrawn from the market since 1997

These drugs were taken off the market because of serious, often lethal side effects.

Rezulin: Given fast-track approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Rezulin was linked to 63 confirmed deaths and probably hundreds more. "We have real trouble," a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) physician wrote in 1997, just a few months after Rezulin's approval. The drug wasn't taken off the market until 2000.

Lotronex: Against concerns of one of its own officers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Lotronex in February 2000. By the time it was withdrawn 9 months later, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had received reports of 93 hospitalizations, multiple emergency bowel surgeries, and 5 deaths.

Propulsid: A top-selling drug for many years, this drug was linked to hundreds of cases of heart arrhythmias and over 100 deaths.

Redux: Taken by millions of people for weight loss after its approval in April 1996, Redux was soon linked to heart valve damage and a disabling, often lethal pulmonary disorder. Taken off the market in September 1997.

Pondimin: A component of Fen-Phen, the diet fad drug. Approved in 1973, Pondimin's link to heart valve damage and a lethal pulmonary disorder wasn't recognized until shortly before its withdrawal in 1997.

Duract: This painkiller was taken off the market when it was linked to severe, sometimes fatal liver failure.

Seldane: America's and the world's top-selling antihistamine for a decade, it took the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 5 years to recognize that Seldane was causing cardiac arrhythmias, blackouts, hospitalizations, and deaths, and another 8 years to take it off the market.

Hismanal: Approved in 1988 and soon known to cause cardiac arrhythmias, the drug was finally taken off the market in 1999.

Posicor: Used to treat hypertension, the drug was linked to life-threatening drug interactions and more than 100 deaths.

Raxar: Linked to cardiac toxicities and deaths.

 

Drug companies are a major influence on doctorsí prescribing habits

In addition to the 3 billion dollars they spend on direct marketing to consumers, drug companies are spending about 15 billion dollars per year on marketing to doctors.

Most physicians have no idea that the drug companies are spending on average $10,000 per doctor to influence their behavior. The doctors do not receive a check, of course, but the perks are significant.

Doctors also don't realize that they actually lose that much income and more if they factor in the time that they lose by sitting with the drug company representatives and going to their 'free' lectures and meals. Doctors also often overlook what a fiduciary responsibility is, and therefore don’t realize that they need to analyze carefully the costs involved in recommending expensive prescription drugs.

Doctors cause patients to divert much of their hard-earned income to the drug companies, which further perpetuates this indirect physician subsidy. All this results in prescription drugs being the fastest-growing category of health care expenditures in the United States.

Drug companies and the FDA

Did you know that experts with drug company affiliations fill many important advisory positions at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? An investigation by 'USA Today' found that more than half of the experts on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committees have financial relationships with the drug companies which will be either hurt or helped by their decisions (5).
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This goes on all the time, with researchers leaving universities, going to government agencies, and then leaving there for executive positions in business where they cash in on all the contacts they’ve made during the earlier years. It isn’t even considered unethical.

Misleading ads from drug companies

While drug companies must submit direct-to-consumer advertisements to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency’s review of drug ads is often not completed until after the ad has been widely circulated. What does this mean for consumers? Advertised drugs are not necessarily safe, and drug advertisements should be looked at with discretion.

If the FDA finds a drug ad to be false or misleading, it will issue a regulatory letter to the manufacturer. In the late 1990s, the FDA issued more than 100 such letters per year, but as of November 2002, only 24 had been issued for the year. The decrease, thought to be the result of a new legal review of proposed regulatory letters, has raised concerns that potentially misleading drug advertisements may be gaining public exposure.

According to a Consumer Reports analysis of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory letters from 1997 to 2002, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) charged drug companies with a variety of violations including omitting or minimizing drug risks, exaggerating the effectiveness of a drug, promoting unapproved uses for a drug, making false claims that a drug is superior to another, promoting drugs which are still experimental, using inconsistent or incorrect labeling information, and giving misleading or false information to doctors.

Drug ads which received the most letters citing violations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1997 included:

Claritin (allergy drug, 11 letters)
Avapro (blood pressure drug, 7 letters)
Flonase (allergy drug, 7 letters)
Flovent (asthma drug, 7 letters)
Celebrex (arthritis drug, 6 letters)
Vanceril (asthma drug, 6 letters)
Xenical (weight-loss drug, 6 letters)
Zyrtec (allergy drug, 6 letters)
Allegra (allergy drug, 5 letters)
Avandia (diabetes drug, 5 letters)
Ditropan (bladder problems drug, 5 letters)
Pravachol (cholesterol drug, 5 letters)

Source: Consumer Reports February 2003 68:(2)33-37

 

Anyone who has tried to quit the anti-depressant 'Paxil' will tell you that the TV ads which claim that Paxil is not 'habit-forming' is misleading. Many people who take Paxil experience SEVERE withdrawal symptoms when trying to get off the drug, from tremors to cold sweats to "electric zaps to the brain" (not painful but very uncomfortable). The Paxil withdrawal is SEVERE. What is concerning is that consumers tend to believe that drug ads are regulated. According to one recent study(6), some 43% of participants believed, falsely, that only 'completely safe' drugs could be advertised.

As i said at the beginning of this article, drugs are sometimes appropriate and at times can save a personís life, but most of the time they are unnecessary, expensive and harmful. You would be well advised to recognize that you should seek natural therapies which address the cause of the disease before choosing a drug-based solution.

 






 



 

References

(1). Wood AJ. The safety of new medicines: the importance of asking the right questions [editorial]. JAMA, 1999 May 12, 281(18):1753?4.

(2). Ibid.

(3). Woosley, R.L., Chen, Y., Freiman, J.P., Gillis, R.A. Mechanism of the Cardiotoxic Actions of Terfenadine. JAMA, 1993; 269(12), 1532-6.

(4). Moore, TJ, Psaty, BM, Furberg, CD, op. cit.

(5). Cauchon, D. FDA Advisors Tied to Industry: Approval Process Riddled with Conflicts of Interest. USA TODAY, Sept. 25, 2000.

(6) Consumer Reports February 2003 68:(2)33-37

 

 

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© 2002 Healing Daily