Saturday, August 30, 2008

New meds aren't always 'safe and effective'

From the Globe and Mail:
If you want to avoid potential adverse reactions from prescription drugs you should shy away from new medications that have been on the market for less than two years, a health-systems expert warns.

"It is assumed by the general public that new drugs ... have been put through exhaustive trials and found to be safe and effective," said Donald Light, a sociology professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. But, he added, new products are not necessarily better or safer than drugs already available.

In fact, reviews of the medical literature reveal that only one in seven new drugs is superior to existing medications. What's more, two out of every seven new drugs result in side effects serious enough to eventually warrant special warnings or even withdrawal from the market.

And a big problem is that many of these adverse reactions don't become apparent until a drug has been used by millions of patients for several years. ...more

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