Reported Drug Side Effects Reach All-Time High

Last week, I posted a blog about concerns many experts, including me, have about the FDA's flawed practice of accelerated drug approvals, even in cases in which terminal patients aren't helped at all by them. No wonder the number of drug-related side effects and health concerns reported to the FDA swelled 14 percent to an all-time high (more than 400,000) in 2004.

I believe that percentage would've been far higher had more reports come from patients, doctors and nurses, instead of the drug manufacturers, especially considering prescription drug sales totaled $235 billion in this country last year, another historic high that was up 8.3 percent from 2003 and more than triple the volume of a decade ago, according to one pharmaceutical market research firm.

One FDA official attributes the surge in complaints largely to the numbers game: The increasing use, as well as the development, of prescription drugs.

However, an aspect the FDA overlooked: Web sites like mine and work by consumer organizations like Public Citizen's Health Research Group that follow the development and marketing of toxic drugs and disseminate vitally important information to patients and doctors that keep them clued into the latest news far better than they were even a decade ago.

I relish that "watchdog" role, to further my vision to transform the existing medical paradigm, addicted to "quick-fix cures," to one focused on treating and preventing the true underlying causes of disease.

USA Today March 14, 2005

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