Doctor Finds an Average of 70 Side Effects for Every Prescription Drug

In Featured Article, General Health, Health Warning

Big Pharma wants you to believe drugs are good for you. That they will make you feel better and prolong your life. But just read the label on any medication. You’ll see that drugs you may be taking for diabetes, arthritis, or cancer could be doing you unexpected harm.

And the number of side effects on drug labels is growing… dramatically.

That’s according to Dr. Jon Duke. He’s an assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He’s also an investigator with the Regenstrief Institute, a respected research organization.

Joined by two colleagues, Dr. Duke examined 5,600 drug labels with a total of 500,000 side effects. The results were published May 23 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Duke’s team found that the average drug label lists 70 side effects. More than 500 in some cases.

Drugs with the longest list of health risks included antidepressants, antivirals, and treatments for Parkinson’s disease and restless leg syndrome.

Dr. Duke says that our current technology could transform drug labels from “lengthy static documents to dynamic resources.” And these labels could deliver personalized patient information. It would also take a patient’s medical conditions into account and highlight dangerous side effects.

Instead, the drug companies throw in every possible side effect. Some that seem downright ridiculous.

“I took a medication that had the side effect of drowsiness,” Jim Murrell, a patient from Atlanta, told The New York Times. “I read a little further and saw it had another side effect. Insomnia. One medication had diarrhea as a side effect and it also had constipation.”

So why are the drug companies doing this? Duke says they’re trying to protect themselves from lawsuits.

You have to wonder… If the drugs are safe, why are they so worried about lawsuits?

Information Overload

Dr. Duke initiated the study after seeing a patient whose blood platelets were abnormal. He looked at the medications the patient was taking. There were about a dozen. So he read the side effects. The list was so long the doctor was overwhelmed.

The problem of overly inclusive drug labeling was originally addressed in a 2006 report that called it “linguistic toxicity.” The report was from Drs. Jerry Avorn and William Shrank of Harvard Medical School. As a result, the FDA set out to make drug labels more user friendly.

They told the drug companies: “Exhaustive lists of every reported adverse event, including those that are infrequent and minor, commonly observed in the absence of drug therapy or not plausibly related to drug therapy should be avoided.”

Yet, the practice continued.

The Drug Companies Know What They’re Doing

If a drug company fully discloses every potential risk connected with a drug, it helps them if they’re sued.

And they are sued… to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The FDA, on its website, admits that prescription drugs come with inherent risks.

“Risks could be less serious things, such as an upset stomach, or more serious things, such as liver damage,” the agency says. “FDA approves a drug for marketing after determining that the drug’s benefits outweigh its risks.”

But there have been many cases where the FDA approved drugs that turned out to be quite unsafe. A recent example is Vioxx. It’s the anti-inflammatory drug that The Wall Street Journal linked to about 27,000 heart attacks and cardiac deaths. The drug, developed by Merck, was recalled in 2004. Still, it was on the market for over six years. It was prescribed to 20 million people.

Two more examples are the weight-loss drugs Fen-Phen and Meridia. Fen-Phen was recalled in 1997 and Meridia in 2010. Both were linked to cardiovascular problems.

And in 2010, the FDA reversed a decision to approve Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer. Side effects included high blood pressure, internal bleeding, and heart failure.

Modern Medicine Is All About Money

With all the risks associated with prescription drugs, they’re sill the “go to” solution for most doctors. This despite the fact that there are many natural alternatives available.

But natural supplements can’t be patented. Which means there’s no money in them for Big Pharma. So the drug companies have to do whatever it takes to make sure doctors keep prescribing drugs instead.

Make Your Health Your #1 Priority

Ultimately, your health is your responsibility – not your doctor’s. So it’s up to you to make smart choices. When your doctor prescribes drugs, you could meekly go ahead with it. Or you could insist on exploring other options. There are natural alternatives for just about every ailment. Alternatives that have been scientifically proven to work.

NHD has told you about many of them. For example, we recently explained how stevia can lower blood pressure. And we will continue to report on the most effective natural remedies around the globe.

That’s our job. Your job is to stay informed.