A 2013 Steven Soderbergh film called “Side Effects” began with the premise that doctors routinely prescribe drugs that could have any number of strange and dangerous side effects. The movie veered off into a lame crime story, but the facts remain that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves drugs, some of which are dangerous. Why? The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, called PhRMA, funds many studies to get favorable results the FDA would have no reason not to approve, according to AlterNet, an advocacy website.
Fosamax, a drug for osteoporosis, is supposed to help prevent fractures, but it has some weird side effects: spontaneous fractures and leaving patients with jaws that don’t heal after having a tooth pulled at the dentist. People on Fosamax have fractured their femurs just by walking up or down stairs. You typically only see this type of fracture in a car accident, said Kenneth Egol, professor of orthopedic surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, in ABC News. Fosamax manufacturer, Merck, included a tiny and obscure warning on the label after not taking any action for 16 months.
Accutane is so potentially dangerous it’s almost amazing it is FDA-approved. But it’s approved only with a caveat: you must sign an iPLEDGE waiver so you understand all the complications that can result. Accutane is the last resort drug for people with severe nodular acne that will not go away using any other treatments. Accutane can cause birth defects or miscarriages, depression, psychosis in the form of seeing or hearing things that aren’t there and thoughts of suicide.
Yaz, a hugely popular birth control pill, can increase your risk of blood clots, which can lead to heart attack. Although the manufacturer, Bayer, disputes the claim that incidents of blood clots in the thigh or lower leg were increased in people who take Yaz, thousands of women have sued the company. If you smoke and take Yaz, you increase your risk of blood clots even more.
GlaxoSmithKline also manufacturers Paxil, the most powerful of all the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, also called SSRI, drugs. You know there’s trouble in paradise when a drug used to treat depression causes you to have thoughts of suicide. Why not just drive a depressed person to the Golden Gate Bridge? It also is common for Paxil to lower your sex drive and make it difficult to achieve orgasm. Don’t those symptoms tend to cause depression? Oh, and if you do decide to get off Paxil, you’re likely to have withdrawal symptoms.
Avandia, the top-selling diabetes drug in the world at one point, might have been responsible for causing heart attacks. The FDA approved the drug in 1999 and, after a significant increase in heart attacks in an eight-year span, the FDA restricted the drug’s use in 2010. Drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, maker of erectile dysfunction drug Levitra and anti-depressant Paxil, produces Avandia. GlaxoSmithKline knew there were risks as early as 2001 when the FDA instructed the company to change informational materials.