Medication Side Effects, Reliability, Validity & Costs

Jul 28, 2012 | 2012 Articles, Mental Health

by Sandra Levy Ceren, Ph.D.

A woman worried about falling asleep had taken a highly advertised sleep medication after embarking on an overseas business trip. Seated in first class, she had awakened shocked and embarrassed to find herself sprawled, clutching hands with a sleeping stranger—a male passenger reclining next to her. Her clothes were in disarray—panties on the floor, bra open. She had no memory of anything that happened after she had swallowed the medication.

Sandra Levy Ceren, Ph.D.

Such reported situations should raise alarm. However, the drug continues to be marketed, despite many reports of anecdotal negative experiences.

Many patients consult psychologists and other mental health professionals after having tried a variety of prescription drugs to combat depression without success.

The first line of defense to counter depression should be cognitive or behavioral psychotherapy. This method has proven success in the treatment of depression without any negative side effects such as that of medicine.

Sharing a waiting room with several doctors, I became aware of the manner in which pharmaceutical companies seduce physicians to prescribe their wonder drugs.

Young, attractive, cheery, drug company representatives, hair neatly coiffed, clad in expensive business suits, often graced our waiting room. I would see them roll in their drug cases containing drug samples, invitations to free cruises, resorts, dinners, and other goodies. Later in the day at the reception desk, memo pads and pens brazenly embossed with the name of latest drug magically appeared. Cute objects bearing the name of the newest drug may save the physician’s time when prescribing medicine.

Although I was not a prescribing physician, I was occasionally invited to share in the free stationery supplies and delicious free lunch.

No wonder drugs are so expensive.

Having treated several pharmaceutical representatives, I was aware that their high salaries were inconsistent with their education and experience. None had taken courses in science, statistics, or research, but they were good marketers, perhaps naturally born.

Obviously, what mattered most to the drug company was the ability to make a successful sales pitch to busy physicians—too busy to explain to the patient how to use and what to expect from the medication, and the possible side effects, interactions with other medications, food and alcohol.

How many physicians trust the literature supplied by the representatives to be reliable and valid?

Newspapers report inconsistencies in the research of many pharmaceuticals.

Frequent reports in medical journals reveal flaws in research.

Some highly respected professors have lost their jobs for fabricating the results of their research.

Scientific research is crucial to all drugs. It is a vital and legitimate cost. It must be scrupulous and free from prejudice. Unfortunately despite the reported scientific findings, certain drugs have caused more harm than good.

Before taking any drug, it is important to consult with a pharmacist who has a record of all the drugs you are taking and your allergies. Pharmacists should be able to spot a potential problem for you.

Recently, a Texas court has ruled that doctors must be held liable for prescribing bad drugs. At this moment, it is not known how many states will follow suit.

Widespread ads by malpractice attorneys abound on TV advising the viewer to consult them if they have taken medicine that caused serious consequences.

The consumer assumes he will win a large settlement, but the lawyers must be paid, so your settlement may be a fraction of the award.

Because the pharmaceutical company must defend itself against these claims, they must have a large budget for defense attorneys and experts. Such costs drive up the price of pharmaceuticals in the United States.

Obviously not all drugs are bad. Some are life-saving.

Because there is no federal agency that protects the consumer against obscenely high priced drugs, the same drug, made in the same place but purchased overseas is a mere fraction of that drug purchased in the U.S.

Some time ago, my son needed an expensive eye medicine. He researched all local pharmacies, but couldn’t find it cheaper than $150. He called his friend in Spain. She sent it to him for a few dollars!!!!

A few years later an article in the London Examiner sparked my interest and concern. According to the article, soon, we may be able to pop a pill to help us remember a phone number, or an upcoming exam question.

A report by Foresight, the U.K’s science-based think tank led by scientists in psychology and neuroscience states that advances could usher in a new era of drug use.

The government’s chief scientific adviser said that brain-enhancing drugs developed to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s were likely to find increased use among healthy people hoping to improve their perception, memory, planning or judgment.

The report also warned that the widespread adoption of new brain-enhancing drugs had risks and would raise significant ethical, social and practical issues.

Read a mystery short story by Sandra right here in KRL.

Sandra Levy Ceren is the author of the Dr.Cory Cohen psychological mystery series, over a dozen published short fiction stories & the non-fiction books Essentials of Premarital Counseling (for counselors) & Look Before You Leap (for couples). She also writes a newspaper has a newspaper column called “Ask Dr. Ceren” covering mental health. Learn more on her website.


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