Why the drug companies warn you of side effects but still market the product.
April 20, 2009 7:05am CST
Some of the side effects we hear about drugs are funny, and some are scary. However they are not advertised to amuse or scare us. They are advertised for a good reason. Remember when your parents and teachers told you to listen so you could learn something? There ya go! The lists of side effects "including death" can sound pretty scary and prevent people from trying certain medicines. The truth is, the law requires drug companies to list possible side effects. This not only keeps the consumer informed but also keeps the butts of the pharmaceutical companies covered. Certainly not everyone is going to have all the side effects and only a very tiny percentage may die, "which has occured in clinical testing". The reason you need to talk to a doctor before using these things is to find out if there is a real risk to you personally. The deaths might have been caused by an allergic reaction or combination of other drugs, and probably not everyone is going to encounter these conditions, but your doctor should know if there is a risk or not. As an example, I want to tell you a little story. I once had a dog who was immunized against heartworm when it was a fairly new problem. Within a week, my dog died. I told the vet and they said they had not heard of that problem with the immunization. However, I later heard that the heartworm medicine was deadly to collies. My dog was part collie. A few years later I heard that the immunization was deadly only to collies from a certain bloodline. Since my dog was a mutt there is no telling if she was part of this family or not. The point is, the experts started out saying that ALL collies were allergic to this medicine and that the allergy would result in death. They thought that mixed breed collies wouldn't be affected, but mine was. Further testing of the product after some misfortunate incidents showed that only a particular bloodline, family, or bloodtype had the problem. Now, vets knowing about this, will usually prescribe another line of protection for collies or mixed collies. By doing that, they lessen the risk of the side effect of death, and they cover their butts against lawsuits. It was still a very sad thing to lose this dog, but at least now I understood why more than at first. Regardless of the drug being for dogs, cats, people, birds, lizards or fish, if in clinical testing there is a side effect that is really major and really common, one must be sure the companies wouldn't release the drug. But if the side effect occurred in only one or a few test subjects, then I am sure they research why it occurs, and only then do they determine if the drug can be marketed. Then they say these things "may occur" to cover the legal side of things. So when the commercial for Gardasil or Viagra tells you to TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR AND PHARMACIST they aren't just saying it to hear their own lovely voices. Just another reason why LISTENING is a really good skill to practice in life.