Is America totally confused about drugs? One might think so. Over the last few years it has become such that you cannot watch one television show without seeing at least a few commercials for drugs. Not surprisingly, during the part where they list the adverse side affects attributed to the drugs, there is a very attractive young lady smiling and dancing and throwing rose pedals. Drugs have become more accepted than breakfast in our “better living through chemistry” society.
Well, a recent study published in the archives of internal medicine, depicts a disturbing picture of our societies interpretation of these ads. Of the thousands of individuals involved in the study, thirty-nine percent mistakenly believed that the FDA approves only “extremely effective” drugs; 25% mistakenly believed that the FDA approves only drugs withoutserious side effects. In conclusion this study found that a substantial proportion of the public mistakenly believes that the FDA approves only extremely effective drugs and drugs lacking serious side effects. This is hard to believe as the side effects are indeed mentioned at the end of each commercial. It would seem that no one is paying attention for this part.
When I meet with new patients as part of my initial history taking process I ask each patient which drugs they are taking and why. I find that about 20% of my patients on initial consultation do not know why they are taking their drugs, and, many are taking more than six different drugs. If you are taking prescription medication, you should be aware as to what you are taking and why you are taking it. Learn the side affects of drugs which you may be taking as well, should you experience any of them. If you are on high blood pressure medication, buy a home blood pressure unit and check your own blood pressure daily.
It is not uncommon for me to meet with a new patient suffering with dizziness only to find out that they are on high blood pressure medication, have lost weight, and are still taking a high dose from before their weight loss and that this is causing their dizziness from low blood pressure. Drug therapies are still drugs, and they should be used with diligence and with prudence. Act responsibly and know all of your options before blindly going on drug therapies, as ultimately, you are the one taking the drug.