Today’s NY Times article, unreported side effects of drugs which describes a new way of testing for unwanted affects from drugs via internet searches by users, is great news, because one of the safety issues with drugs is that when the FDA goes about its approval process, it tests just the drug alone; what it does not do is test the drug in the real life situation it will find itself in, which in the majority of cases would appear to be in combination with other drugs, especially in people over 40.

“The popular anti-depressant, paroxetine*, causes high blood sugar when combined with a common cholesterol lowering drug, pravastin**.” How many people are on anti-depressants with cholesterol drugs? What will we find about other drug combinations now there is a way to check?

The over-medication of the elderly is a real issue, but so is the casual way in which M.D.’s give 2, 3, and even more drugs to one person at the same time, without regard to drug interactions. Drug interactions are a major cause of reported deaths in this country. But what about slow insidious side effects not tied to the meds?

Equally problematic is the ease with which drugs are used when non-drug modalities might work better. They should at least be given a try before taking something toxic into your blood stream. All drugs have some level of toxicity, some more, some less. I am not being dogmatic, its just the truth. So let them at least be a last resort.

*Paxil (paroxetine) treats depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

**Pravachol (pravastin) Lowers high cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. Helps keep atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) from getting worse. Helps prevent heart attack and stroke in people who have heart disease. This medicine is an HMG-CoA inhibitor, sometimes called a statin.


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