Are Black Box Warnings Really Effective?

One of the free benefits of reading my blog and eHealthy News You Can Use: Ongoing coverage of the latest black box warnings the FDA has been posting with far greater regularity these days. A second cautionary piece by USA Today -- one of my favorite newspapers in the world -- asks if all these black box warnings really do anyone any good.

On one hand, such warnings are a no-brainer, if for no other reason than to underscore just how toxic most prescription pharmaceuticals really are. Especially if you consider how they call so much attention to the toxic effects of worthless drugs like these:

However, there are some who believe black box warnings aren't much help at all, but, according to a recent study, neither are physicians. Researchers tracked the effectiveness of four Dear Doctor letters after the FDA posted a warning involving Rezulin (once produced by a Warner-Lambert subsidiary) that concerned potential liver damage. Based on Medicaid claims tracked solely in Ohio, the number of patients who actually got their liver enzymes checked never rose beyond a frightening 26 percent!

According to the study, however, physicians are only part of the problem. Researchers argued pharmacists and patients must step up to the plate and take their share of the responsibility for paying attention to the medications they sell and take too.

Still, that fails to address the root of the problem: A conventional and broken health care paradigm that largely embraces drug-based cures over less expensive and far less toxic natural treatments that truly get to the heart of the ailment.

USA Today April 26, 2005

Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, January 2005, Vol. 14, Issue 1: 1-9

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