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Ask Your Doctor!

Good, healthy food and exercise are the keys to healthy living; but when ailments strike, we turn to medicine to cure our disease and help us regain our health. Curing and relieving patients of the illnesses that affect them is the commitment entered into by pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. (and around the world). These companies spend millions of dollars in research about diseases, the substance or compound that would be effective against these, and in the production of drugs that what would hopefully cure or prevent these from worsening. The drugs are then tested on patients suffering from illnesses these are intended to treat and, if truly effective, are passed to the Food and Drug Administration for further analysis and approval for actual patient use.

Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical products, even those that are manufactured by top pharmaceutical companies or which become most recommended by doctors due to their reported efficacy, eventually end up causing adverse effects that put patients’ health in greater risk. Some of these products are oral contraceptives and prescription drugs meant for patients suffering from type 2 diabetes, seizures and manic episodes due to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, kidney failure, epileptic seizures or migraine attacks.

The reported adverse effects vary, depending on the drug taken and the patient taking it; some of these include gall bladder injury, heart attack, stroke, birth defect, such as cleft lip or cleft palate, bladder cancer, cerebrovascular accidents or CVA (a failure in the functioning of the brain due to disturbance in the brain’s blood supply), myocardial infarction or damage of heart tissues, cardiac arrest, low blood pressure, acute pancreatitis or sudden inflammation of the pancreas or sudden death.

Pharmaceutical side effects are real and cause great harm to patients. Thus, when a particular medicine is reported to cause adverse effects, the US Food and Drug Administration issues orders to manufacturers to include in the prescription label of their product/s the risks to health associated with it/these  – this is to significantly lessen the number of patients affected by the reported risks or to stop any drug from further putting patients’ health in greater danger. To some other drugs, however, the FDA issues a block box warning, the most serious warning from the agency, to caution physicians from prescribing it (unless really necessary) and patients from using it.

Patients affected by any adverse effects prescribed medicine to them, which was meant to cure their illness, now require more urgent care than before. Though doctors may be partly to blame, the real liability is cast upon the manufacturer of the pharmaceutical drug who claimed, upon its release, that the product is safe and effective.

Thus, while doctors ought to explain clearly to patients whatever effects the medicine they are prescribing might have, patients too should be more open to their doctors about their past and present illnesses, and be more inquisitive about any medication prescribed to them. Well, probably this is really part of the meaning of the statement, “Ask your doctor.”

Rick Coleman+