While modern medicine intends to fight disease, the quest to treat illness by prescription drugs comes with a price.
It is generally accepted that prescription drugs carry unwanted side effects. Hidden in the well-known category of annoying side effects are serious events known as ‘adverse drug reactions’.
Less is understood about the frequency and severity of adverse drug reactions. “Unintended, harmful reactions to medicines (known as adverse drug reactions) are among the leading causes of death in many countries,” according to the World Health Organization. (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheet/fs293/en/ Last update
Only One Study
In the United States, the most quoted and best estimate of the incidence of adverse drug reactions comes from a meta-analysis published in the Journal of American Medicine in 1989. (Lazarou.J. (1989). The Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA 1989;279 (15):1200-1205. doi:10.1001/jama.279.15.1200) Searching a database of 39 different studies, the research team’s stated goal: to estimate the injuries incurred by drugs that were properly prescribed and administered.
Especially since the study excluded therapeutic failures, errors in prescribing and administering, noncompliance, overdose and drug abuse, the numbers are astounding. In the year they focused on they found that 2,216,000 hospitalized patients had serious adverse drug reactions and 106,000 patients had fatal adverse drug reactions. That means that if you added in therapeutic failures, errors in prescribing and administering, noncompliance, overdose and drug abuse, the numbers would be astronomically higher. A very low number of adverse drugs reactions are reported to hospitals. When someone already has a condition that requires drug treatment, it is difficult to blame death on the drug.
This article claimed adverse drug reactions from properly prescribed and administered drugs appeared to be the fourth leading cause of death behind heart disease, cancer and stroke. While the numbers are impossible to adequately verify, the fact is, legal drugs that are considered ‘safe’ are killing Americans in large numbers. We are not fully aware of the extent of adverse drug reactions because there are many, many, many, many flaws in the system.
Why Not More Studies?
We will never see a better estimate of fatal adverse drug reactions because the drug companies control what gets published in the leading medical journals. Funding for research comes from the drug companies. Doctors must sign elaborate non-disclosure agreements before beginning drug research. If the research results are less than complimentary to the drug companies, the projects get shut down and doctors are not allowed to discuss the results with anyone or they will be sued for everything they have by the drug companies for violating the non-disclosure agreements.
Marcia Angell M.D. was the first woman editor-in-chief of the distinguished New England Journal of Medicine. In the 20 years she worked there, she witnessed so many atrocities, she has written a book called "The Truth About Drug Companies"