Prescription Drugs and Their Potentially Adverse Effects

Posted on Nov. 7, 2003, 12:48 p.m. in Functional Medicine

The Potentially Adverse Effects of Prescription Drugs

Discovering dangers of prescription drugs after they have been marketed to the medical community and public is common. Generally, 51% of FDA-approved drugs have serious adverse effects not detected prior to approval. Each year prescription drugs injure 1.5 million people so severely they require hospitalization. In addition, prescription drugs cause 100,000 deaths annually. With these numbers, how can the public be protected from dangerous drugs?

A recent study in JAMA examined the incidence of serious and fatal adverse drug reactions (ADR) in hospital patients. An ADR is any harmful, unintended, or undesired effect of a drug. This definition does not include drug abuse nor intentional or accidental drug overdose. The results of this study were conclusive: the rate of severe and deadly adverse drug reactions in U.S. hospitals was found to be extremely high-high enough that ADRs ranked fourth, after heart disease, cancer, and stroke, as a leading cause of death in the U.S.

Despite FDA attempts to incorporate various drug safety measures prior to approving prescription drugs, they often overlook potentially dangerous effects. The use of prescription drugs is often crucial; however, in order to avoid potentially harmful side effects and drug-interactions, natural remedies should be incorporated whenever possible. Herbal therapies and nutritional supplements may support the relief of many health problems without the harmful effects of prescription drugs.

References

US General Accounting Office. FDA Drug Review: Postapproval Risks, 1976-85. Washington, DC: US General Accounting Office; April 26, 1990. GAO/PEMD-90-15.
Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN. Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. JAMA 1998;279(15);1200-04.

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