10 Deadliest Prescription Medications
How Lethal Medicines Reach the Marketplace
Many organizations questioned how the FDA allowed these lethal drugs onto the marketplace to begin with.
FDA Role in Drug Approval Process
There is a common misconception regarding the role of the FDA in the approval process of new prescription medications. The FDA is not involved in the testing processes of these drugs in any way. That is not to say that the process is not without its shortcomings.
The FDA makes their final decision for the sale of these new prescription drugs based on information acquired from independent studies and research provided by outside resources. In many cases, it is the pharmaceutical companies themselves who provide this data.
Although there are established guidelines for the gathering and dissemination of these needed statistics and for the testing practices on which they are based, there is still room for individual interpretation.
This means that the companies which stand to reap monetary gain from the selling of these drugs may be able to create statistics that are of the most benefit to their financial outcome.
The main objective of the FDA approval process is to determine the ability for a medicine to be sold to the public. One could infer that this would indicate an attention to consumer safety, but the process has never been meant to confirm that the medication is indeed effective in any way.
No Guarantee of Reliability or Safety
The FDA approval does not guarantee against possible side effects or even if the drug will work the same way for every individual patient.
These determinations are considered to be the responsibility of the prescribing physician. Unfortunately, doctors often make the same assumptions that as the general public and concludes that the FDA has approved the medicine as safe and reliable.
As the pharmaceutical companies are spending billions of dollars on advertising for these new and interesting drugs, the doctor still has to determine the potential advantages and disadvantages based on the individual taking the drug. This can be nearly impossible to predict when the drug first appears on the market due to lack of expert experience in the drug’s history of use.
Clinical trials are meant to provide a basis for comparison in predicting the benefits of the prescribed medication on patients of similar related backgrounds. However, these drugs are being offered to a wide array of subjects whose patient profile falls well beyond the data provided within the clinical trial. It is also considered that standard clinic trials are far too short a duration to adequately determine the potential long term positive or negative effects of the related medication.
Sales Reps’ Financial Interest
When a new medicine arrives on the market, the doctor relies heavily on the sales representative of the pharmaceutical company to educate him or her on the best uses and dosages for the new drug treatment program.
These representatives have a financial benefit to convincing these physicians that their medication is the best solution for their patients’ afflictions. The medical professionals will try their best to weigh the value and accuracy of the information provided, but ultimately it is only through patient feedback that the doctor’s opinion can be accurately formulated.
Rank Drug Type Deaths 1998-2005
1 Oxycodone Prescription opioid painkiller* 5548
2 Fentanyl Prescription opioid painkiller* 3545
3 Clozapine Antipsychotic 3277
4 Morphine Prescription opioid painkiller* 1616
5 Acetaminophen Over-the-counter painkiller 1393
6 Methadone Prescription opioid painkiller*/addiction medication 1258
7 Infliximab Immune-system modulating drug 1228
8 Interferon beta Immune-system modulating drug 1178
9 Risperidone Antipsychotic 1093
10 Etanercept Immune-system modulating drug 1034
Source: Moore TJ et al., Serious Adverse Drug Events Reported to the Food and Drug Administration, 1998-2005, Archives of Internal Medicine, Sept. 10., 2007; 167 (16): 1752-1759. As of this writing, more recent data on the ten deadliest prescription medications is not available.
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© Helen Chow, ND