To Your Health
September, 2012 (Vol. 06, Issue 09)
When Drug Companies Decide Not to Warn You
By Editorial Staff
If you're looking for accurate information on the safety of medication, don't look to the pharmaceutical industry to provide you with the complete details – particularly not if the drug they're touting is the over-the-counter (OTC) variety.
A recent study suggests that when a drug formerly available by prescription only shifts to OTC availability, an interesting – no, disturbing – shift also occurs with respect to how the drug maker markets it.
According to the study, conducted by Dr. Jeremy Greene of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and fellow researchers, when four commonly used prescription drugs became available over the counter, two things happened in print and broadcast advertisements. First, almost all of the advertisements (97 percent) described the benefits of the medication (only 83 percent of ads described drug benefits prior to the switch from prescription to OTC). Second, a mere 11 percent of ads detailed the potential risks / harms of the drugs, compared to 70 percent of ads when the drugs were available by prescription only.
So, when medication becomes available to the consumer without doctor approval, the pharmaceutical companies respond by pumping up the benefits while keeping quiet about the dangers? What's wrong with this picture? Not much if you've been following the behavior of the pharmaceutical giants over the years. Patient safety isn't always at the top of their priority list.
Your doctor of chiropractic – who does put patient safety first – can tell you more about the risks of prescription and over-the-counter medication while offering drug-free alternatives to enhance your health and wellness.