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It would be comforting to know that the large pharmaceutical companies are wonderful corporate citizens whose primary purpose in life is to develop drugs and medical devices that will improve the quality of life for everyone on earth. And if you watch enough of the drug industry’s incessant advertising and marketing efforts, which now total more than $30 billion a year, you might develop that belief.

It would also be comforting to know that when a doctor prescribes a medicine, the patient can take it without worrying that the “cure” will be much more horrible than the disease.But the reality of modern pharmaceutical drugs is that many of them are terrifyingly dangerous and sometimes fatal. Too often they provide no relief, but bring with them problems much worse than the conditions which they’re supposed to cure.

What makes that reality even more frightening is that the drug companies know exactly how dangerous their products are, but they continue to market them aggressively until a government agency or a court makes them withdraw a drug from the market. As long as a drug is making money, a manufacturer isn’t going to stop selling it, regardless of how many lives it ruins or ends. Bayer’s Trasylol is a case in point.

To drug companies, profit alone matters. Their greed is so strong that they consider the costs of lawsuits for damages caused by their products to be just another business expense, like labor and raw materials. Warner-Lambert’s off-label promotion of Neurontin, an epilepsy drug, to treat bipolar disorders, migraines and drug withdrawal, caused it to plead guilty to two felonies for its fraudulent acts and pay $430 million in pentalties, including $240 million in criminal fines, was shrugged off by Pfizer as acts committed before it acquired Warner-Lambert.

The result of that greed is that the market, and many American homes, are full of dangerous drugs. That means that everyone, even an employee of a pharmaceutical company, faces unknown dangers in taking a prescription for a condition that doesn’t appear to be anything serious. John Fratti, a man who actually sold pharmaceutical drugs for a living, certainly didn’t expect to have his life destroyed when he received a prescription for Levaquin.

Gwen Olsen, another pahrmaceutical rep, had her own horrible reactions to Zoloft, an anti-depressant. With her background, she understood what was happening to her, but her doctor said that her reaction wasn’t possible. She’s now become a crusader against the giant pharmaceutical companies

Levaquin and other flouroquinolone antibiotics such as Cipro, Avelox, Noroxin, and Floxin are so dangerous that they’ve led to the creation of sufferers’ groups and websites. The FDA has ordered makers of flouroquinolones to add the “Black Box” warning to their packaging. The “Black Box” is the strongest advisory that the FDA issues without taking a drug off the market. Essentially, the “Black Box” means that a a patient should take the medicine only if it’s a choice between that drug and death. That’s how dangerous “Black Box” drugs are.

Dangerous drugs are everywhere, being used to treat many types of conditions, because the profit in drug manufacturing is in off-label use.  For more on off-label marketing abuse see previous posts.

Avandia, a drug used to treat diabetes has been linked to so many cases of liver failure, heart attacks, and deaths, that Public Citizen, a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, has called on the FDA to ban it.

Chantix is supposed to help smokers quit, but it causes hallucinations, and it’s less effective than stop-smoking patches.

The situation is getting worse instead of better.  Prescription drugs are causing more problems than ever before, and some commonly prescribed drugs have never received FDA approval.

To protect your own health, take the time to investigate any medicine’s safety record before you take it.

And if you have had an adverse reaction to a drug, stand up for your rights and hire the an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer, i.e. the “right” lawyer immediately.

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Richard Alexander