Each year, Britons are dying in their thousands because of the side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Reported deaths are up 155 per cent in a decade – and experts are seeking new safeguards, writes Nina Lakhani in today’s Independent on Sunday.
Thousands of patients are dying each year as a result of side effects from pills prescribed by GPs and hospital doctors.
And while the number of deaths from suspected adverse reactions to prescription drugs has more than doubled in the past 10 years to 973 last year, medical experts warn that as few as one in 10 deaths and other serious complications are being reported.
Doctors’ poor prescribing skills and repeated failures to recognise accurately adverse drug reactions in patients have seen deaths multiply by about two and half times since 1996.
Experts are calling for a revamp of the current warning systems designed to alert doctors to potentially lethal prescription drug treatments.
They believe tens of thousands of patients suffer life-threatening, disabling or other serious reactions that need hospital treatment because of a failure to spot and report many dangerous side effects and drug interactions quickly enough.
One study estimated that the equivalent of all the beds from seven general hospitals – 5,600 places – are occupied with patients suffering from drug reactions at any one time, costing the NHS more than £450m each year. Researchers believe around 70 per cent of adverse reactions could be avoided through better training, computerised prescribing systems and staff spending more time talking and listening to patients.
The latest revelations follow The Independent on Sunday’s exclusive report two months ago highlighting the dramatic rise in the number of drugs that doctors are now prescribing.
The drugs most often reported to have produced fatal reactions in patients (1996-2006)
Clozapine: an anti-psychotic
Infliximab: an anti-inflammatory
Diclofenac: an anti-inflammatory
Warfarin: prevents blood clots
Olanzapine: an anti-psychotic
Venlafaxine: an anti-depressant
Aspirin: prevents blood clots
Methotrexate: treats cancer and rheumatoid arthritis
Paroxetine: an anti-depressant
Rofecoxib (Vioxx): an anti-inflammatory
Please read the entire article over at the Independent on Sunday
And why are these drugs so potentially dangerous to so many people? The simple answer is that drug companies are rushing sub-standard drugs to market, ignoring or rewriting research studies that do not give them the answers they want.
Profits before patients.