Pills Pills Pills
by Ted L Glines
It is startling to hear “About 50% of pharmaceuticals in use today have no evidence to validate their use.” This statement was made by the Vice President of Johnson & Johnson, during a recent medical Research panel discussion. This statement was seconded by all of the medical experts participating in this discussion. What does this mean?
A drug is developed to be an intervention for a specific illness or medical condition. Before being released for public use, the drug goes through layers of clinical trials to assure that it has no specified harmful side effects. Having successfully concluded these harm-centric trials, the drug will receive FDA approval for release to physicians and to the public. Thereafter, the physician will prescribe this drug for his patients who have been diagnosed appropriately. At no point during this lengthy process is the drug evidence-tested as a successful intervention for the intended illness/condition. Further, there has been little or no attempt to document the success (or lack thereof) of this drug in use. Maybe this drug was designed to “cure” diarrhea, but, since diarrhea is normally very temporary, we cannot know whether the drug works. Maybe the diarrhea simply ran its course and went away on its own. Maybe the drug worked. No one knows.
Drug usage is documented quite well in physician's ledgers of accounts receivables.
During the above panel discussion, a suggestion was made. “Doctors should keep ongoing records of specific drug usage with each patient. What were the perceived results, over time, of using this drug? Did the drug truly intervene and help the patient, or not? Results of these studies could be fed back to the FDA and the appropriate pharmaceutical companies. This way, costly drugs might be forced to be effective in use.” I think it was the Director of AARP who made this suggestion. Perhaps it is not surprising that his comments failed to generate enthusiastic discussion. Doing such studies does not generate revenue.
In essence, this statement, “About 50% of pharmaceuticals in use today have no evidence to validate their use” means that about 50% of the dollars you pay for pharmaceuticals -- is your money wasted. The benefit of these unproven drugs accrues only to the physicians, pharmacists, and pharmaceutical companies. Their profit margins go up in adverse proportion to the thinning of your wallet.
The War on Obeisity may be seen in a new light when we recognize where the thinning really occurs.
30 March 2008 Associated Press:
CHICAGO - Full results of a failed trial on Vytorin, a medicine taken by millions of people to lower cholesterol, left doctors stunned that the drug did not improve heart disease even though it worked as intended to lower three key risk factors.
Use of Vytorin and a related drug, Zetia, seemed sure to continue to fall after the findings reported Sunday and fresh questions about why drugmakers took nearly two years after the study ended to give results.
"A lot of us thought that there would be some glimmer of benefit," said Dr. Roger Blumenthal, a Johns Hopkins University cardiologist and spokesman for the American Heart Association.