Tough Pills to Swallow
A New Jersey health-policy professor asks big questions of Big Pharma.
Few would dispute the fact that weâ€™re a medicated nation: Four in five adults and about half of all children take at least one prescription pill a week. But just how necessary those drugs are, and whether drug companies exist to promote wellness or turn profits, is a matter of ever-hotter debate.
Stoking the fire is Donald Light, a professor of comparative health policy at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of ?New Jersey, who will be lecturing at BUâ€™s Barrister Hall on April 23. Citing health and PR disasters like Vioxx, the prescription painkiller that may have claimed about 58,000 lives, The Risks of Prescription Drugs author is a critic of the pharmaceutical industry and the relationships drug producers have with doctors. â€śPrescription drugs that we take to get better have become a major cause of accidents and hospitalization,â€ť Light says. â€śThey are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.â€ť
Expect Light to attack the financial and ethical conflicts of interest in the prescription-med industry, which he says lead companies to push drugs while downplaying evidence of harmful side effects. â€śPatients may reasonably expect the FDA and their physician to protect them from risk,â€ť he writes in his book. â€śBut in fact, both pass significant risk on to their patients.â€ť Weâ€™re betting you wonâ€™t see any Cymbalta ads on the back of the lecture program. â€” Mehry Sabet
By the Numbers:
- 12 is the average number of U.S. retail prescriptions filled per person in 2010.
- $220,338,509,960 is the total U.S. retail sales for prescription drugs filled at pharmacies in 2010.
Sourced from statehealthfacts.org
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/article/2012/04/20/how-necessary-are-our-prescription-drugs/