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Don't Rely on Doctors When it Comes to New Drugs

They don't read the fine print, and rely on salespeople for information

From HealthScout

Do you sometimes feel like your doctor is out of the loop when it comes to details about new drugs? You might be right in some cases, and their ignorance can kill, experts say.

At issue most recently is the frequency with which new drugs are being pulled off the market after killing or injuring those they were supposed to cure, according to a wire service story at ABC News. Experts say many of those deaths might have been prevented if doctors had paid attention to safety warnings.

Some experts say no patient should ever be prescribed a drug that has been sold for less than a year. It often takes a year or more for negative side effects to be identified.

You should question your doctor carefully when he or she wants to prescribe a new drug for you. And take it upon yourself to research the new drug. The article from ABC News suggests you ask your doctor how the drug is different and why it's being recommended over what you're taking currently. The answer, "Because it's new," isn't good enough.

Some say the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is to blame because it approves new drugs too quickly. FDA experts respond that the real problem is doctors who don't read, or ignore, warning labels. Their lax behavior is the reason why otherwise perfectly safe drugs are being withdrawn from the market, FDA officials say.

FDA officials add that their resources are limited when it comes to drug testing. They rely on pharmaceutical company fees, in part, and funds to upgrade drug-testing programs have repeatedly been beaten back in Congress. So the FDA has to rely on doctors to voluntarily report side effects, and most don't. The FDA says that when problems are spotted, it issues warnings, and, again, doctors fail to read the fine print, the article says. Instead, they often rely on drug salespeople for their information.

Lotronex is just one of many drugs that have been pulled off the market recently due to deaths. To find out more, you can read this from the FDA. Propulsid is yet another example.

-- Pem McNerney

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