The Risks of Prescription Drugs

The Risks of Prescription Drugs

EDITED BY DONALD W. LIGHT
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 184
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/ligh14692
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  • Book Info
    The Risks of Prescription Drugs
    Book Description:

    Few people realize that prescription drugs have become a leading cause of death, disease, and disability. Adverse reactions to widely used drugs, such as psychotropics and birth control pills, as well as biologicals, result in FDA warnings against adverse reactions.

    The Risks of Prescription Drugs describes how most drugs approved by the FDA are under-tested for adverse drug reactions, yet offer few new benefits. Drugs cause more than 2.2 million hospitalizations and 110,000 hospital-based deaths a year. Serious drug reactions at home or in nursing homes would significantly raise the total. Women, older people, and people with disabilities are least used in clinical trials and most affected.

    Health policy experts Donald Light, Howard Brody, Peter Conrad, Allan Horwitz, and Cheryl Stults describe how current regulations reward drug companies to expand clinical risks and create new diseases so millions of patients are exposed to unnecessary risks, especially women and the elderly. They reward developing marginally better drugs rather than discovering breakthrough, life-saving drugs.

    The Risks of Prescription Drugs tackles critical questions about the pharmaceutical industry and the privatization of risk. To what extent does the FDA protect the public from serious side effects and disasters? What is the effect of giving the private sector and markets a greater role and reducing public oversight? This volume considers whether current rules and incentives put patients' health at greater risk, the effect of the expansion of disease categories, the industry's justification of high U.S. prices, and the underlying shifts in the burden of risk borne by individuals in the world of pharmaceuticals. Chapters cover risks of statins for high cholesterol, SSRI drugs for depression and anxiety, and hormone replacement therapy for menopause. A final chapter outlines six changes to make drugs safer and more effective.

    Suitable for courses on health and aging, gender, disability, and minority studies, this book identifies the Risk Proliferation Syndrome that maximizes the number of people exposed to these risks.

    Additional Columbia / SSRC books on the privatization of risk and its implications for Americans:

    Bailouts: Public Money, Private ProfitEdited by Robert E. Wright

    Disaster and the Politics of InterventionEdited by Andrew Lakoff

    Health at Risk: America's Ailing Health System-and How to Heal ItEdited by Jacob S. Hacker

    Laid Off, Laid Low: Political and Economic Consequences of Employment InsecurityEdited by Katherine S. Newman

    Pensions, Social Security, and the Privatization of RiskEdited by Mitchell A. Orenstein

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51926-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Health Sciences, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[x])
  3. CHAPTER ONE Bearing the Risks of Prescription Drugs
    (pp. 1-39)
    DONALD W. LIGHT

    Americans live in an era of advanced medicine in which many of the risks from pathogens and disease are controlled by prescription drugs. Each year, one or two excellent new drugs enable more people to lead healthier lives. These have built up to an impressive medicine chest of beneficial drugs. Despite this record of success, the fact remains that most new drugs pharmaceutical companies develop offer few advantages over existing ones and yet bear greater risk.

    The benchmark for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a drug as effective is evidence that it is better than, or...

  4. CHAPTER TWO The Food and Drug Administration: Inadequate Protection from Serious Risks
    (pp. 40-69)
    DONALD W. LIGHT

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the premier public regulatory body of its kind in the world. No other agency has so many staff and resources or has pioneered so many procedures or techniques to protect public safety and promote the development of better drugs. Yet no other regulatory body has been criticized so extensively for falling down on the job, letting too many risky drugs through, and being too dependent on and close to the industry it is supposed to regulate. When one learns how antiquated its information technology systems are, how difficult it is for the...

  5. CHAPTER THREE The Commercialization of Medical Decisions: Physicians and Patients at Risk
    (pp. 70-91)
    HOWARD BRODY

    Patients taking prescription drugs, as the chapters of this volume show, are at risk for adverse drug reactions, overtreatment, unsuitable treatment, disease mongering, and financial loss.

    Who ought to protect patients from these risks? Chapter 2 shows how government (specifically the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] in the United States) is struggling to strengthen its weakened ability to protect the public and patients from private risks. If we are witnessing the privatization of risk, then we might next wonder if there are any privateresources to which the patient/consumer might turn for protection.

    The American medical profession has long viewed itself...

  6. CHAPTER FOUR Pharmaceuticals and the Medicalization of Social Life
    (pp. 92-115)
    ALLAN V. HORWITZ

    An enormous change has occurred over the past twenty years in how Americans perceive and treat psychological and behavioral problems. In particular, the 1990s and the first decade of the twenty-first century have seen a dramatic upsurge in the medicalization of social life. Medicalization means that some condition is defined as a medical problem and is treated through medical techniques.¹ Troubles that had been viewed as spiritual, moral, or behavioral problems and handled through prayer, counseling, or punishment or simply tolerated are now defined as diseases and addressed through biomedical treatments that physicians provide. Especially since 1997, when pharmaceutical companies...

  7. CHAPTER FIVE Medicalization and Risk Scares: The Case of Menopause and HRT
    (pp. 116-139)
    CHERYL STULTS and PETER CONRAD

    Medicalization describes a process by which nonmedical problems become defined and treated as medical problems, usually in terms of illnesses or disorders.¹ Many social scientists have been critical of medicalization, especially the “over-medicalization” of society, emphasizing its potential for adverse social and medical consequences. The engines behind medicalization have shifted in recent decades from medical professionals and social movements like Alcoholics Anonymous and the definition of alcoholism and the movements promoting the acceptance of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the pharmaceutical industry and consumers.² Pharmaceutical companies play a central role in the medicalization process by developing medications for a...

  8. EPILOGUE Toward Safer Prescribing and Better Drugs
    (pp. 140-165)
    DONALD W. LIGHT

    Employers, taxpayers, and patients are beginning to realize that the rising costs of prescription drugs stem from higher-priced newer drugs that offer few proven advantages over older, cheaper, similar agents, even as they put patients at greater risk for adverse reactions, as described in Chapter 1. These costs reflect a regulator unable to protect the public adequately, for reasons explained in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 uses the over-prescribing of statins for healthy people to illustrate how physicians are allowing their best clinical judgment to be commercialized. Setting guidelines for “high” cholesterol is one of several examples where expert panels with...

  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 166-167)