Are 'Blockbuster' drugs really that good?

The previous blog post has prompted me to put together this short post.

I would preface this by saying that I am not totally anti-pharmaceutical. 

There are occasions where they undoubtedly save lives, particularly in emergency situations, but for general living they are usually not needed or grossly overprescribed and almost without exception lead to a deterioration in quality of life and trigger off other complications which in turn lead to more drugs and hence the start of the slippery slope into oblivion.

What gets me is that much of the general population is ‘conned’ into believing many of these drugs are essential for their normal day to day living.    This is done by direct to consumer drug advertising which puts pressure on Doctors to prescribe the drugs being promoted.  Even normal healthy people can begin to doubt that they are healthy when they see adverts suggesting that ‘just because you feel healthy, doesn’t mean that you are!’

The information given to the general public and Doctors although correct is often distorted with parts missing which if Doctors and consumers knew about, the Doctors would not prescribe them nor would the patient take them.

Let me expand on these two points.

  1. Distortion:  We often hear about how a fabulous new drug has reduced the risk of death from a certain condition by say a third.  (33%).  The natural reaction by the public is that is fantastic, and you better give me some.  Now the 33% may indeed be correct but you have to consider the ‘small print’.  The one third reduction in mortality is likely worked like this.

    One person in a hundred dies of this particular condition.  BUT…in the study they found that only 2/3rd of a person dies per 100.  This means whereas you previously may have had a risk of dying from this condition of 1 in a hundred, or 3 in three hundred, but now you have reduced that risk to 2 in three hundred, or in other words you have improved your chances by 1 in 300.  Now, I am not a gambler but I doubt many gamblers would think these were good odds…but, if you didn’t read the small print you would think that your odds are 1 in 3 which is quite a different story, but the 33% reduction is technically correct so they can get away with this type of promotion.
  2. What’s left out:  Let’s consider the popular statin drugs.  Most of you are aware of how serious the potential side effects are from this drug.  What is not widely known however is that your risk of mortality from all causes is greater if you take this drug than if you don’t take it!
    I’ll explain.  When the results of a clinical trial is published…as an example, a statin, they may state that there was a reduction in deaths from cardiovascular conditions which is what the drug is designed for.  But, they are not obliged to give any information of mortality from other causes…for example, cancer.  There are studies done that support the overall reduction of mortality from cardiovascular disease with a statin but they also show an increase in mortality from other causes…but, that never sees the light of day unless you dig for it.  Doctors are largely unaware of this as they get most of their info from the drug reps and they certainly aren’t going to tell them

Bottom line!  If you are being pressured to go on any drug, be sceptical.  Ask for evidence supporting the need for it.  Carefully study the potential side effects, and there are always side effects as you cannot introduce a foreign molecule into your body without a side effect.  Consider if you can correct whatever condition you are concerned about by lifestyle changes, dietary changes and natural supplementation.
Enough rambling from me today. 

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