10 Things You Need to Know About Prescription Drugs
and the Pharmaceutical Industry.....By Scott Hendler of Hendler Law
- Most of them do much more good than harm. They save millions of
people everyday, substantially improve quality of life and help
prolong life expectancy.
- No drug is completely safe. All have potential side effects.
Doctors prescribe a medication when they ascertain that the benefits
of its use will exceed the potential risks. And doctors understand
much less about the risks than people tend to think -- their primary
sources of information about drugs are the drug companies themselves!
- The FDA does not actually test any drugs. They only review the
results of clinical trials conducted and submitted by the
pharmaceutical company seeking approval for the drug.
- The FDA's drug approval process is funded in large part by the drug
companies themselves. User fees were introduced in the early 1990s
to help expedite the drug approval process (reducing it from an
average of 30 to 15 months). However it raises the question of who
the FDA is truly serving -- the people of the United States or the
- The long-term safety of drugs is not established before they are put
on the market. And this is true despite the fact that so many drugs
are used daily to treat chronic conditions such as high cholesterol,
diabetes and Alzheimer's.
- Drugs are frequently marketed and prescribed for medical problems
they were not approved for and have never been proven to be effective
(or safe) in treating. This practice is called "off-label"
- "Natural" products and herbal remedies are not always safe
alternatives to prescription drugs. This industry is not regulated
by the FDA; therefore while many of these products may be beneficial,
few have been clinically tested for efficacy or safety, and drug
interactions are unknown. Reports of adverse events from these
products are now appearing regularly in the medical journals.
- Only a small fraction of drugs represent any improvement over
products already on the market -- although they are marketed as
"breakthrough" drugs. The substantial premium being charged for
these products is not a function of higher quality, but represents
an attempt to maximize profits while patents are still in effect.
- The pharmaceutical industry has the most powerful lobby in
Washington. There are more drug industry lobbyists in Washington
than there are elected representatives in Congress.
- Although the pharmaceutical industry leads the public to believe that
high prices are necessary to support research and development
efforts, they actually spend more on marketing than on researching
drugs. The truth is that the pharmaceutical industry is more
profitable than any other industry -- by a considerable margin.
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