How Safe Are Your Medicines?

Saturday 14 January 2012

This is an extract of an article written by Dr Amir Farid Ishak. He is a medical specialist who is very much against the current drug-based practice of modern medicine. Instead, he advocates a lifestyle and nutrition-based approach.

In general, drugs/medicines do not heal, but only suppress or control the symptoms, and they have many side-effects. For example, people with high blood pressure condition have their blood pressure "under control" as long as they take their medications. The unfortunate news is, even if their blood pressure is normal, they are not healthy, and not cured of their problem. Why? Because if they miss their drugs for a few days, their pressure shoots up again. Of course, this situation is better than if the blood pressure is high and unsuppressed. The same applies to treating diabetes, as medicines only suppress blood glucose level.

What is a better option? Normalize the blood pressure and blood glucose level through natural methods, as follows:
  • practice healthy lifestyle 
  • healthy diet
  • weight management
  • exercise
  • nutritional therapies.

Unfortunately, it is usually difficult to reverse these chronic diseases because the patients find it difficult to follow the above prescribed regimes. It takes much discipline to regain health after having neglected it for so long.

Evidence-Based Medicine

Doctors rely a lot on scientific evidence that determines if a drug is safe and effective or not. Here are 2 scary reports that stand out because of the huge fines:

1) A major drug company was fined US$3 billion by the US Food & Drug Authority (FDA) for several offences, including concealing evidence that showed that their top-selling anti-diabetic drug may not be safe to use. This drug has the side-effect of increasing the risk of heart attack by 43% (New England Journal of Medicine, 14 June 2007).

The Mayo Clinic (US) revealed that 90% of scientists who wrote favorably about this anti-diabetic drug had financial ties with the manufacturer.

2) 2 years ago, another major drug company was fined US$2.3 billion for promoting "off-label" uses (i.e. for therapeutic use not approved by the FDA) of 4 of its drugs.

Regulating Drugs

Many of us put much trust in the FDA as a regulator of the safety and effectiveness of drugs in order that the people can confidently consume the drugs prescribed to them. However, events that have happened over the last few decades make this assumption not necessarily always true.

Many drugs that have been approved by the FDA (after seemingly very stringent assessment that took many years) had to be withdrawn when it became obvious that the risks outweighed the benefits.

Dr Amir Farid quoted an example that in 2004, a very popular anti-inflammatory analgesic (painkiller) was voluntarily withdrawn by the manufacturer after a shocking disclosure. This manufacturer withheld information about the drug's risks for over 5 years, resulting in possibly 140,000 cases of serious heart disease. What is more horrifying is this is one of the most widely used drugs ever to be withdrawn from the market. It had an annual sales revenue of US$2.5 billion.

Dr Amir Farid is highlighting all these to remind us of the dangers of relying too much on drugs. The drug/medicine safety and effectiveness reports are often skewed towards approving their use and benefiting the drug companies. Since many countries' drug regulators rely to a certain degree on FDA's approval, the reliability of FDA as an honest regulator affects us. Even if the reports are honest, all drugs have side-effects, ranging from mild to serious.

In Conclusion..

More and more doctors now are realizing the importance of nutritional therapy, i.e. relying on the goodness of proper diet and supplements to promote and maintain health, and to treat disease. When taken together with sufficient exercise and a healthy lifestyle, it is certainly a very powerful alternative to conventional drugs/medicines.

(Source: StarFit4Life, Are Your Medicines Safe? by Dr Amir Farid Ishak, 11 December 2011)

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