HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Prescription Drugs and Side Effects/Risks

The Wall Street Journal's Health blog has an interesting piece on how patients may be scared away from certain drugs after having read materials from the FDA about the risk those drugs pose.  Sarah Rubenstein's writes,

In an era defined by Merck’s withdrawal of Vioxx over heart risks, there’s been a glut of new sources that aim to educate consumers about drug risks. Among them are Web sites from the FDA, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson.  But too much information from the Web, the media, consumer groups and others has a side effect of its own. It can cause consumers to become alarmed, forget about drugs’ benefits and stop taking medications they need. The WSJ explores the issue. . . .

As a way of achieving some balance, FDA told the WSJ it plans to revamp its early-communication letters, which notify the public as soon as the FDA has a specific concern about a drug. They’ll include more info, such as the number of adverse events that have occurred in comparison to the number of people who take the drug. The Pfizer site, meanwhile, has a section titled “Understanding Risk.” Often, it says, “the benefits medicines provide to our health outweigh the potential risks.”

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