If you watch TV in the evening, you have most likely seen ads for prescription drugs. Have you noticed that after they have pitched the advantages of taking the drug they say “It may also cause side effects…” And this sentence often ends with “including death.” This is said quickly to squeeze it into the 30 second or one-minute timeframe. Let’s talk about “One of the side effects is death.”
Most of us are unaware of what is really said during these commercials. They usually begin with a story. For example, a sad looking woman will tell you something like, “I was sad and depressed and, after taking whatever-it-is I feel wonderful,” and her face lights up with a smile. Or they show you a man too tired to play with his grandchildren but after taking this-will-fix-you he is in the yard playing a game with them. Or a celebrity may tell you how hard it was to go on stage because of her ugly skin condition but now? Guess what? It’s gone because she took a drug. You get the idea. Then the voice comes on, speaking low and fast, telling you about the side effects. It has to be fast because there is limited time and some of them have a lot of ground to cover.
This is becoming more and more of a problem. According to the NY Times, a study done by Kantor Media shows that 771,368 such ads were shown in 2016, the last full year for which data is available, an increase of almost 65 percent over 2012. Sometimes during a commercial break, you will see as many as 8 or 10 different ads and there will generally be at least one drug ad and sometimes two. I have counted as many as ten different drug ads during an evening of TV watching.
So, what’s the big deal? The pharmaceutical companies just want to make money, don’t they? They are, after all, in business.
True. And they make billions of dollars in profits. But that’s not the point.
The point is that death from properly prescribed prescriptions is becoming more and more prominent. US News and World Reports states :
However, depending upon the analysis, adverse drug reactions are estimated to result in approximately 1.5 to 2.7 million hospitalizations each year. And though following a doctor’s orders and medication labeling instructions can reduce harms associated with taking prescription drugs, simply taking prescribed drugs as directed can expose a person to significant risk.
They go on to state:
Estimates dating back nearly two decades put the number at 100,000 or more deaths annually, which includes a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 that projected 106,000 deaths. A more recent analysis estimates 128,000 Americans die each year as a result of taking medications as prescribed – or nearly five times the number of people killed by overdosing on prescription painkillers and heroin.
Sometimes we have to make hard choices. Is there anything else that can help us get the condition under control? Are there alternative treatments? What are they? Does the risk of taking the drug outweigh the risk of leaving the problem untreated? You need to ask your doctor these questions until you are satisfied with the answers.
Let’s take a look at those drugs that are most heavily advertised. According to Fierce Pharma the top 10 drugs advertised on TV are:
If you are taking any of these medications, click on the link and read about it. If it has information specifically for physicians, read that, too. Most of us get the information from the pharmacy when we pick up our prescription. And many of us discard it without reading it. Read it now. I take one of those top ten on a daily basis. Yes, it has side effects. I have to choose between dying of a stroke or bleeding to death. Some choice, huh? I made a conscious choice to take it and risk bleeding over having a stroke.
Because the drug is in the top 10 that are advertised, it doesn’t mean they all can result in death. But they all DO have serious consequences. You should know what they are.
But some specifically state the possibility of fatal results. The information on Humira, for example, in its list of side effects states, “Patients treated with HUMIRA are at increased risk for developing serious infections that may lead to hospitalization or death. Most patients who developed these infections were taking concomitant immunosuppressants such as methotrexate or corticosteroids.”
The Literature on Latuda states, “LATUDA may cause serious side effects, including “Stroke (cerebrovascular problems) in elderly people with dementia-related psychosis that can lead to death.”
Abilify says taking it may result in “Stroke in elderly people (cerebrovascular problems) that can lead to death.”
The takeaway here is to be knowledgeable about what you are putting into your body. If it is prescribed by a physician, it is still your responsibility to know what it is and what it can do besides helping you cope the existing condition. We are each unique. We each react to things differently and this includes the medicine we take. The Pharmaceutical companies are required by law to list the side effects. They all do this. So if you get a prescription, read about the side effects. If it says anything in the fine print that one of the side effects is death or may result in death, you will need to make a conscious, informed decision about what to do. Talk to your physician.
Don’t become a statistic.
About the Author
Irene Conlan has a Master’s degree in Nursing, a PhD in Metaphysics and is the owner/editor of this blog.