There’s a good chance you either take, or have taken, prescription medication.
In fact, nearly 70% of Americans — more than 224 million people — take at least one prescription drug. More than half take two or more.
However, new findings from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital are raising red flags throughout the medical community.
Researchers there have found that, for drugs approved between 2001 and 2010, nearly 1-in-3 had a "postmarket safety event."
Here’s what that means … and what it can mean for you.
Postmarket safety events can vary.
A drug may be pulled from the market due to safety concerns.
The FDA could issue a "boxed warning," where it puts a black box on a label to call attention to serious/life-threatening risks.
Or the FDA might issue some other type of safety communication.
In other words, you might get a prescription for a drug that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted for safety concerns. Even if that drug has already been on the market for several years.
For example, the researchers found several antipsychotic drugs with postmarket safety events.
That’s far from the only class of drugs affected. But the researchers found that the occurrence there was statistically significant.
The same goes for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs). SSRIs are used to treat a wide array of illnesses, including autoimmune disease, migraines, erectile dysfunction and diabetes. That’s just to name a few.
Unfortunately, you might take these medications for half a decade … or more … before you learn that there might be risks you weren’t already warned about.
Per Nicholas Downing, M.D., of the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital:
"These safety risks emerge, on average, four years after approval. This means that many patients are exposed to these medications before the risks become clear.
"This analysis highlights that there is residual uncertainty about the risks and benefits of new drugs at the time of approval, thereby demonstrating the need for all stakeholders engaged in the drug development process to commit to the generation of clinically useful information both before and after regulatory approval."
If you take prescription medication, let this be a warning to you.
You shouldn’t pretend to be a doctor, relying on the internet to diagnose yourself and target the medications you think will help that self-diagnosis.
But you can be vigilant about what you’re putting in your body.
First, read the labels of any medication you take — prescription or over-the-counter — and don’t take them until you are clear about the potential risks.
Second, make sure your doctor explains exactly why he’s prescribing you a drug, how it works, and any risks.
Third, ask tough questions. Don’t assume anything. Medications affect people differently, and they can also react with other meds you are taking.
Fourth, get a second opinion from other doctors if you don’t feel comfortable. In some cases, there may be a natural-health solution that can complement or even replace the prescription drug.
Have you ever had any negative experiences with prescription medication? If so, please leave a comment and share with us what happened and how you found the proper solution.
Happy and healthy investing,
Nicholas S. Downing, Nilay D. Shah, Jenerius A. Aminawung et al. Postmarket Safety Events Among Novel Therapeutics Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration Between 2001 and 2010. JAMA, 2017 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.5150