7 Things to Know to Defend Yourself Against Legal Drug Side Effects

We’re lead to believe that drugs are safe. Most of the time they are. However, side effects are much more common than you’d think. I’ve seen this in my own family:

  • My dad has dementia because of a drug interaction. He also has severe muscle wasting because of statin (cholesterol) drugs – he’s in a wheelchair now.
  • My sister in law is a doctor and a runner. She had her achilles tendon rip after taking an antibiotic for 2 weeks.
  • I’m deaf due to a genetic sensitivity to Tylenol. It happened over the course of 6 months when I was 14.

I’m not against drugs. They have their place in healthcare. However it’s essential to know the side effects, because they can sneak up on you and cause permanent damage.

1. Drugs are not a cure.
Apart from antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, almost all drugs don’t cure. You can easily see the proof. Stop taking the drugs, and your symptoms will come back.

2. All drugs have side effects. Period.
“All drugs have side effects. A drug without side effects is no drug at all.” – Eli Lilly, founder, Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical company. Also, according to Dr. Janet Woodcock, former director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, “All drugs have side effects, and even the safest approved drugs have side effects”.

3. Know your drug’s side effects.
Even the obscure ones. You may want to review them every few months. Most of the time the side effects sneak up on you.

4. Keep a list of your medications handy.
Especially if you’re in poor health. Put it on the refrigerator or somewhere convenient to provide to EMTs. They WILL ask for this, even if the drugs have nothing to do with their visit..

5. The newer the drug, the more likely it’s unsafe.
According to an article in JAMA: “Discovery of new dangers of drugs after marketing is common. Overall, 51% of approved drugs have serious adverse effects not detected prior to approval.”
(Moore, TJ, Psaty, BM, Furberg, CD. Time to act on drug safety. JAMA 1998;279(19):1571-3.)

6. The longer you take the drug, the more likely it is you’ll see side effects.
This is why new drugs often have unknown side effects. The clinical trials haven’t lasted long enough for the long term effects to be know.

Older drugs have known side effects and drugs with the most serious side effects are pulled off the market. It may be a good idea to ask your doctor about older medicines that do the same job or work almost as well.

7. There is no requirement for drug companies to report bad side effects.
The FDA requires after-market clinical trials. This is called Phase 4 clinical trials. However, there is no requirement for pharmaceutical companies to publish studies that show adverse side effects! Instead there are many cases where drug companies sue people for violating confidentiality agreements designed to keep bad news secret.

Drug companies are known for only publishing studies that happen to show the results they want.
This website cites many studies, including one that shows the publication bias. Only 32% of industry sponsored clinical trials are published, while 56% for non-industry clinical trials are published.

The most side effects after a drug goes to market is the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System, and not the required phase VI clinical trials. Unfortunately most doctors don’t know about this database and don’t report possible adverse events. They’re not required to. If they’re not sure of the cause, they won’t enter the event. This prevents statistical patterns from showing up in the database until it’s much too late.

Reducing Drug Needs

Your body naturally regulates hormones, neurotransmitters and even things as simple as sodium (salt) levels. Many health issues happen when your body isn’t properly regulating or healing itself. Acupuncture and herbs work by helping with self-healing and self-regulation.

In contrast, drugs work by blocking symptoms instead of fixing the underlying imbalance. At People’s Community Acupuncture, we’ve helped people reduce their need for everything from bipolar medications to painkillers to drugs for painful periods. If you’d like to reduce your need for medications, please stop in!

– Burton Kent (founder of People’s)