Beyond The Pill Bottle

Last week in class we discussed the pharmaceutical industry and the dangers that surround prescription medications.  We touched on how like any other industry they are profit driven, despite the fact that their sole purpose is to supposedly assist the sick.  Prescription drugs must undergo various steps of regulation, such as being introduced as an application to the Federal Drug Administration.  The FDA determines the need for the drug, the marketplace available and the health risks associated with the medication at that point in development.  Side effects are the number one concern regarding prescription drugs, and many measures have been set in place to watch for these threatening post symptoms.  The FDA has set up a post-market surveillance system called MedWatch, which monitors the sale and effectiveness of approved drugs after they have been prescribed.  Doctors and manufactures of the drug are also supposed to report problems to the FDA, but these complaints usually gain no traction once they reach the desks of corporate and federal officials.

We’ve all been exposed to a pleather of medical advertising campaigns, some more memorable than others.  While some ads may slip our mind the moment they leave the screen, there is one aspect that never fails to stand out: the side effects.  Everyone has witnessed the extensive list of side effects mentioned during a commercial for medicine.  In some cases they seem to be more severe than the condition the drug promises to treat in the first place.  Some of these serious side effects include physical debilitation, stroke, heart conditions, various types of cancer, dizziness, nausea and death.  We’ve all heard these side effects listed in commercials, but the real question is why do we continue to trust these harmful drugs?

Regardless of the obvious consequences attached to prescription medications, the pharmaceutical industry still remains one of the largest in the world.  When we dig through the mass amounts of FDA regulation and agreements between corporate associates and doctors, we find one universal truth.  That as patients of health care we are culturally conditioned to trust our doctors.  From the rigorous education system required to work in the medical industry to the level of knowledge and expertise required, doctors obviously know what is beneficial for our health more than we could figure out ourselves.  We usually disregard the fact that doctors have a specific quota of prescriptions they have to report to the medical corporations that supply the drugs.  As patients we trust the recommendations of professionals and that the medications will carry out their intended cause.  We tend to tune out the dangerous consequences of prescribed drugs in hope that they simply won’t happen to us.


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