Suggested Reading: Several New Takes on the Dangers of Prescription Drugs

Sometimes, we read an article or book about health, medicine and/or patient safety that’s fascinating but too long to summarize fairly in a blog post. So here’s a shout-out to a few recent stories you might want to look up, on a common theme.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose death rates in the U.S. have more than tripled since 1990 and have never been higher. Most of these deaths, says the CDC were caused by prescription drugs. In the last several months, the Los Angeles Times has published a series of investigative articles about the epidemic of prescription deaths. The four-part series explains how legal drugs have deadly outcomes, how reckless doctors and rogue pharmacists contribute to the problem, how regulatory authorities allow problems to fester and what they can do to address it. Link here.

Also, see our blog, “Doctors Don’t Know Dangers of Narcotics, and FDA Leaves Drug Makers in the Driver’s Seat.”

“NPR’s Akathisia Blind Spot,” was posted on Paul John Scott’s website devoted to “groupthink in science medicine and fitness-popular culture and the madness of crowds.” In the eloquent essay, he indicts the media for continuing to ignore a major side effect of a class of anti-depressant drugs known as SSRIs-selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors–including Celaxa and Lexapro. “[T] he problems with SSRIs and suicide seems no closer to being articulated in the culture at large, let alone resolved, beyond a few ardent voices and the small print on some drug labels that, thanks to the silent skepticism of so many, no one really knows what to think of.” Link here.

“Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients,” Dr. Ben Goldacre’s new book, addresses our culture’s willingness to believe that drug treatment is based on evidence, that doctors are familiar with the latest drug studies, that drug research is pure science unpolluted by conflicts of interest and that when it comes to drug safety, regulators have our back.

As readers of this blog know, that’s fiction. Goldacre shows how the manipulation of the prescription drug market has been protected from public scrutiny because it’s too complex to capture in a sound bite. Goldacre untangles the tale in the hope that all patients and medical professionals can understand the tricks and distortions inherent in Big Pharma. Link here.

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