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Medicine Summaries
Prescription Drugs

Prescription Drug Risk
Adverse Side Effects

What Risks Are Associated with Prescription Drugs?

Below I present a theoretical classification summary of the benefits and risks of the universe of prescription drugs. Some drugs offer high benefit, with low risk. These are the best drugs. Some drugs offer very questionable benefit, with very high risk. These are the worst drugs. All the others are somewhere in between.


I have also included a side effect Risk Table, which medically defines the risk of side effects in terms of percentages.

30

390 - 450

30


Drug Types

Benefit/ Risk Ratios which describe most pharmaceutical medications -



Drug Benefit-Risk Ratios

Type 1. Best Drugs - The best drugs are almost always effective, and have very low risk from adverse side effects.

Type 2. Good Drugs - These are high-benefit, low-risk medications.

Type 3. Many Drugs - Many pharmaceutical drugs fall into this category - some benefit possible, with possible high risk. Disagree? The New England Journal of Medicine states that the leading cause of death is "doctors, drugs, and hospitals".

Type 4. Marginal Drugs - These drugs have marginal benefits, accompanied by medium risk.

Type 5. Useless Drugs - Many drugs are approved for use, which have extremely limited efficacy - sometimes indistinguishable from placebo. A recent example was Evista.

Type 6. Many drugs - Many drugs provide some benefit, but have unacceptable risk of adverse side effects.

Type 7. Sledgehammer drugs - Many only administered in a hospital, because the risk of death is about equal to any benefit derived.

Type 8. Worst drugs - These drugs provide VERY LITTLE benefit, with extremely high risk. In MANY cases, the possible side-effects are FAR WORSE than the ailment being treated. A recent example is Vioxx.



.
Medical Risk Table - Risk Descriptor Definitions
Side Effect Risk of Occurrence, by percentage
Risk Descriptor

Happens to How Many ?

.
Percentage

Very Common side effect

More than 1 in 10

10 % or more

Common side effect

From 1-in-10 to 1-in-100

10% - to - 1%

Uncommon side effect

From 1-in-100 to 1-in-1,000

1 % - to - 0.1 %

Rare site effect

From 1-in-1,000 to 1-in-10,000

0.1 % - to - 0.01 %

Very Rare side effect

From 1-in-10,000 to 1-in-100,000

0.01 % - to - 0.001 %

Source: Report of the Committee on Safety of Medicines, Working Group on Patient Information, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, July 2005
" Common side effects are "
Common seems to have come to mean "tolerated by all", or even, "harmless".
Common actually means frequently occurring. Not necessarily good, or unharmful.

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Here are a few pharmaceutical drug "truths" that I find inescapable -

1. Many drugs are approved for use, which have extremely limited efficacy - indistinguishable from placebo.

2. The drug companies are perfectly happy producing high-risk, low-benefit products (#4, #5, #6, and #7 above.) Money is THE issue - NOT your health.

3. In MANY cases, the possible side-effects are FAR WORSE than the ailment being treated.

4. Drug companies produce "treatments", not cures. If an ailment can be cured by a simple drug compound, there is NO MONEY to be made. The large drug profits are generated by continuous usage and sales of the drug.

5. Many drugs are prescribed by doctors for "off-label" usage. The drug information may contain NO INFORMATION whatsoever about a given usage, yet the drug companies tell the doctors to prescribe a drug for the "off-label" uses.

6. Routinely and notoriously, drug companies suppress information that reflects negatively on their products -
. . . Some observed side effects are not discussed
. . . Other side effects are dismissed, underreported, or ignored
. . . Sample populations have been distorted (cherry-picked to create believable results).
. . . Subjects have been removed early, who were not producing the data desired
. . . Sample sizes have been too small, and the studies TOO SHORT, to reveal crippling and deadly side-effects that appear LATER ON
. . . What drug companies sometimes call "efficacious", an intelligent lay person would laugh at - roughly the same as chance.

7. When a doctor prescribes a medication, the FIRST consideration is NEVER "Will this help the patient?".
The FIRST consideration is ALWAYS "How well will the drug be tolerated?'
Why would this be? Because the chemical soup adverse side-effects are FREQUENTLY WORSE THAN WHAT IS BEING TREATED!!!

Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Prescription Drug Lawsuits
Prescription Drug Side Effects


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Disclaimer
The author is not a doctor.
NO MEDICAL ADVICE IS OFFERED OR IMPLIED.
Statements on this page may NOT be correct.
These are just my personal thoughts.
The sole purpose of this page is to encourage further research on your part.

I hope that you have found this prescription drug risk page helpful.
Thank you very much for your time.




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©2005 Vaughn Aubuchon
www.vaughns-1-pagers.com
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Vaughns Prescription Drug Risks summary list
was last updated on 2012-07-24.