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Drugs – Issues with safety and side effects

Drugs – Issues with safety and side effects

Excerpted from a December Money Magazine article and shared by Dolores Cannon in an email support group post

The December 2004 issue of Money magazine has a worthwhile article about recent concerns of new drugs and their safety and side effects. Many were devastated to learn of the adverse effects of Vioxx on the heart.

We wonder how this can happen. One problem is that the clinical trials that lead to government approval of drugs are conducted in relatively idealized populations and only for a limited time. So when a drug hits the general population, the variations among us–race, gender, age, weight, health conditions–can bring to light previously undetected side effects. On top of that are all the other drug interactions you need to be aware of in an increasingly medicated age. Now, more than ever, it’s important to take an active role in understanding the risks of your medications. A study of 548 new drugs approved by the FDA between 1975 and 1999 showed that the worst adverse side effects weren’t known for about seven years. It’s easy to be impressed with a new remedy, but often, the older more established medicines will do just fine with less risk.

Of course, you can’t turn yourself into a physician or pharmacologist, but you can follow a few prudent practices and use a growing number of online resources to find the right questions to ask before popping those pills. Here is a checklist of things to ask your doctor whenever he or she recommends that you begin a new drug.

  • Why do I need this drug?
  • Are there non-drug therapies that I can try instead?
  • How will it interact with medications I am presently taking (including over the counter medication, vitamin, and mineral supplements)?
  • What are the risks and side effects of this drug?
  • How is this an improvement over existing drugs?
  • Can I take a lower dose?
  • Can I discontinue another drug?

Most of us can’t name a complete list of what we are taking–name of drug, dosage, strength, etc. To prevent potential drug interactions, you should have a printed list, including over the counter medications, and take it to every doctor you consult. If you can’t do this, put all your pills in a bag and bring them to your doctor(s).

Gather as much information about the drug as you can. Some suggested websites are:

Don’t rely on just one reference; get as much information as you can. Each site is unique in the type of information it gives.

Note from Dolores: Some of my favorite sites for learning about medications including their indications for use, dosage, storage, side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, missed doses/overdoses, etc. are the following:

Saturday, September 8th, 2012