Drug warnings

It might be just a coincidence, but as television drug advertising grows ever more pervasive, it seems the warnings grow increasingly dire, and increasingly vague, i.e. “people taking Grinexa may experience dizziness, swelling, loss of vision and involuntary muscle spasms which may become permanent. Some patients have experienced bleeding disorders while taking Grinexa, sometimes fatal. Call your doctor and stop taking Grinexa if you have suicidal thoughts or tendencies…”

I was always taught that drug protocols are rigorous, and I would imagine that drug manufacturors have a vested interest in keeping the warnings to a minimum, so why is it that the most widely advertised drugs seem to have the most potentially dangerous side effects? Is it just the drug companies covering their collective asses?

I think the warning that puzzles me the most is the “suicidal tendencies”…how exactly is that linked to a drug? Seems to me that in any population, whether is it people taking Grinexa, people who enjoy Ramen noodles, or people who regularly indulge in single malt scotch, there will be a few who contemplate or attempt suicide. Is it really possible to develop and market a drug that has otherwise happy and well adjusted folks leaping out windows during the testing phase? How many patients must die from side effects, or kill themselves, before a drug is deemed too dangerous to prescribe?

Drug addiction is a complex brain disease. It is characterized by compulsive, at times uncontrollable , drug craving, seeking.Drugs and alcohol can cause mental problems, too.Drug and alcohol addiction can ruin a person financially.but remember that Drug addiction is bad, drug addicts are not. They do things that are bad because of the drugs.

Since Grinexa is “sometimes fatal”, maybe if you have suicidal tendencies, you need to let the doctor know, so he can prescribe you some Grinexa.

All medications have side effects. The hope is that the side effects are not as bad as the symptom they’re suppose to be helping. Remember that not everyone gets side effects. They’re basically warnings to watch for. If you start taking Grinexa and do get dizzy, you know maybe you should contact your doctor immediately.

Still, I don’t like this direct advertising to the patients, and I don’t like the freebees to the doctors. These aren’t M&Ms we’re handing out. Worse are the commercials who tell you to go to their website, so they can “recommend” a doctor to you.

90% of the time, there are other cheaper meds that can handle the same issues, and sometimes there are ways to handle the problems without taking medications. I mean, do we really need a $120 per month prescription medication to give women thicker eyelashes?

Ask your doctor! Or better yet, ask ours!

For the most part, side-effect warnings are noted to save the arse of the pharmaceutical companies. :smiley:

Regarding mood-altering drugs, especially those that might incite suicide ideation, the Dr prescribing them takes into account the risks against the non-treatment of the ailment that brought the patient to the surgery in the first place. IOW, the disease suffered by the patient must be deemed serious enough to warrant the prescription of that particular drug to treat it.

Take prednisolone (cortisone) for example. It can be a wonder, life-saving drug for most of the population, but can also cause those mood changes you mention. Should we discontinue the use of pred because a minority of people suffer quite severe side effects?

Another theory: the drugs that are effective and have few side effects sell themselves. It’s the ones where the balance between benefit and side-effects is more of a toss-up that need the big advertising campaigns.

Oh, must mention btw that in Australia, only OTC meds are allowed to be advertised to the general public. There are no media campaigns of any kind for meds that can only be dispensed from a pharmacist WITH a Dr’s prescription.


I love those ads. They always remind me of this.

No, quite the contrary.
The more possible side effects they have listed, with the notice “stop taking x if these symptoms appear…”, the more protected they are from lawsuits.

Cortisone, a hormone with wide-reaching effects, leads to glucocorticoid withdrawal, a significant disturbance of metabolism that takes up to a year to reverse. However, the disturbance is never life-threatening or otherwise acute (more to the likes of headaches, fatigue, mood changes, and other such wishy-washiness), and so gets ignored. Glucocorticoid drugs are being widely over-prescribed for ailments that don’t justify the side-effects.

Anyway, all these listings of side-effects, whether on TV ads or in serious medical literature, are fucking retarded. Absolutely fucking retarded and bullet-proof evidence of how forlorn the medical “science” is. The simple reason? They don’t specify probability (or severity or other quantifiers), and are thus meaningless.

I’d really like a cite for that Alex. Long-term high-dosage steroid use CAN lead to more life-threatening outcomes (as I can personally attest to btw). I’m sure there are some cases where the drug is overprescribed, but I’m equally sure that most GP’s are fully aware of the serious side effects that can ensue, and are reluctant to prescribe unless absolutely necessary.

So, cite please.

If you look at the prescribing information for physicians, which you can find on the drug’s web site, it provides frequencies of adverse events in placebo and treated populations in clinical trials. Here’s the prescribing info for a drug chosen b/c it’s on TV Levitra. (PDF) Adverse events info is on p 7.

The law states that if you mention what the drug is for in an adverstisement; print, TV, radio, etc, you MUST list the side-effects.
Do you recall the first round of Viagra commercials? They never said what the drug was for…a lot of winkin’ and noddin’, but they never said. So they didn’t have to state the side-effects.
I believe that the law requires that you have to list all of the side effects, regardless of how remote the chance…which is why you get the “even death” tacked on at the end. In a clinical trial with 10,000 participants…somebody’s gonna die. Unless you can show that they were hit by a bus…it’s a side-effect of the drug.
The drug companies don’t need to cover their ass on TV, they have a 45 page insert in the box that you’re supposed to read that does that, they woudl rather not mention a 4 hour erection at all…but they have to.
If you’re going to complain to anyone, call Washington. The science is sound. The regulations…not so much.

I’ve seen this information packaged with prescription drugs. There’s actually a lot of good, interesting information on that little fine-print sheet that’s crammed into the package. For instance, I remember one such data sheet for a migraine drug. They include effectiveness data for a tria: (making up numbers here) perhaps 20% of patients report that the pain is gone in an hour, vs 5% on placebo, similar data points at two and four hours, etc.) There’s also detailed information about side effects: 80% said the stuff tastes like ass, 30% report dizziness, 1% have a runny nose, and one patient out of 3000 had a sudden heart attack (again with fictional numbers).

In the actual medical literature, there’s a lot more detail, covering probability and severity in at least a qualitative way. Now, the tendency to list every freaking little thing that some test subject reported is silly, and mostly born of ass-covering by the pharmaceutical companies. It is pretty ridiculous that runny nose is reported as a side effect for absolutely everything, but that’s because people have colds all the time regardless of drugs they take.

But there have been a lot of big, high profile lawsuits against pharmaceuticals about the more severe side effects, costing billions of dollars in some cases. See the history of Vioxx for one example.

Personal observation (and IAMAShrik): Depression often leads to the inability to do anything. When you’re down enough to think of suicide, you’re too depressed to actually attempt it. If a drug takes away your depression and your inability to act but doesn’t take away the suicidal thoughts, you’re more likely to act on them.

That document gets off to a good start, reporting probabilities for the mild side-effects, but then reverts to the “fucking retarded list” format for the more severe ones. The “post-marketing experience” should have a much larger pool of data to work with, yet unnervingly it also completely omits quantifiers. (How many people are losing their hearing? Do we know? Do we care?) The insert mentions a dose-dependent effect in the incidence of some side-effects (no shit, sherlock) but does not hint at how that might be manifest. (Because who the hell cares about the relationship of dose with effect? Really. :rolleyes:)

Nope, medicine… still retarded.

This makes sense to me…I guess that might explain why the drugs with the most dangerous side effects require the heftiest advertising war chests

Are you sure about that?

This is of course true about the other side-effects, but about this one I’m not so sure… I can’t help wondering how many people take Viagra hoping for a 4-hour erection…

Having never had to try any of those products myself, I can’t say, but I heard that priapism is not as fun as it sounds. Prolonged…er…engorgement can cause vascular damage and may require surgery (can you say “butterfly”?).

I just picture the guy sitting there…looking at his watch…3 hours , 45 minutes…c’mon!

Side effects are many and varied.