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why aren’t the side effects of drugs reported more often?

Why are Drug Side Effects (Adverse Events) So Grossly Under-Reported?

“It is estimated that between 5% and 10% of adverse drug reactions are reported.  Thus, the main limitation of the passive method of analysis of drug safety is under-reporting, which decreases the sensitivity for detecting adverse events, making it difficult to estimate the frequency of occurrence, as well as assessing the severity and impact on the health of drug users.” From a December 2013 study (Causes for the Under-reporting of Adverse Drug Events by Health Professionals:  A Systematic Review) published in the medical journal SciELO.

It’s no secret that UNDER-REPORTING of adverse events by the medical community is common — dog-common.  The question is why?  This issue was raised yet again by a discussion with a friend of mine during church on Sunday.  It seems that a buddy of his recently had a reaction to a certain kind of antibiotic (FLUOROQUINOLONE ANTIBIOTICS) that left him with tremendous joint and muscle pain.  Like many other drug reactions, these are said to be rare —extremely rare

You can imagine the sort of scenario this leads to.  When this person went to their doctor for a solution, they were given NSAIDS and told that their problem could not possibly be due to the antibiotics because those sorts of reactions were so rare as to be almost non-existent.

The same thing happens each and every day with virtually every kind of drug.   From STATINS to ANTIDEPRESSANTS.  From HEARTBURN DRUGS to ANTIBIOTICS.  Even things like ACETAMINOPHEN that we are told is safe.  And drugs like CORTICOSTEROIDS that cause not only short-term problems, but major problems over the course of a person’s life.   And what about politically charged drugs like VACCINES

In similar fashion to what’s in the first link on the page, we know that vaccine reactions are only reported to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) about 1% of the time (HERE).  In fact, VAERS’ website states that, “Underreporting is one of the main limitations of passive surveillance systems, including VAERS.  The term, underreporting refers to the fact that VAERS receives reports for only a small fraction of actual adverse events“.  What does underreporting do?  It creates it’s own vicious tautological cycle.

A tautology is a redundancy — a way of saying the same thing twice using different language.  For instance, if I told you that I personally washed my car with my own hands, I am essentially saying the same thing twice.  Thus, don’t be surprised when your doctor says to you, “because it’s a well known fact that side effects or reactions to drugs and vaccines are so rare, your problems (your child’s problems) cannot be the result of a drug reaction“.  What does this do? 

It keeps the rates of adverse events artificially and perpetually lower than what it should be — much lower.  Thus, it skews the side-effect profile of specific drugs and / or vaccines toward safety (or at least looking like it’s safe).   Again, in order to see how dramatic this problem really is in our society, click the first link at the top of the page.

Part of the problem is that real life application is far different than controlled studies (HERE).   But that alone certainly can’t explain the magnitude of this problem.  What we have here is a perfect storm coming together to create a DRUG CULTURE that is far more dangerous than we are led to believe (HERE).  Allow me to give you some solutions to this situation.

  • SIMPLIFIED CONSUMER REPORTING:  When it is up to your doctor to report adverse events, we’ve already seen that this simply is not happening.  Solution?  Make it easier for people to call in or fill out a computerized form concerning their reaction.  Please note that this does not mean that anything will be done to help your current situation.  It does mean that the statistics will be (or at least should be) more accurate. Hopefully the data from these stats can be crunched and examined by experts who can determine how safe (or unsafe) certain drugs or vaccines really are.  Although there are PROGRAMS IN PLACE, people are not aware of them or don’t know how to use them.  This is why the next bullet is so critical.
  • SIMPLIFIED PHYSICIAN REPORTING:  Doctors are busy.  No; that’s an understatement.  They are swamped.  The problem is not the time spent with their patients.  It’s the fact that they are forced to spend inordinate amounts of time charting (HERE) — in some cases, more time than what they spend with patients.  The last thing they want to do after spending several hours doing paperwork (see previous link) is more paperwork.   If physician reporting of adverse events is not ridiculously easy, it probably isn’t going to happen.
  • AWARENESS OF THE SIDE EFFECT PROFILE OF THE DRUGS THEY PRESCRIBE:  Should doctors report reactions that are common?  What about reporting reactions they are not familiar with, are thought to be rare, or they have never heard of before?  According to peer-review, all are common reasons that drug reactions fail to get reported.  And when these reactions fail to get reported, they never become statistics.  Again, this makes drugs appear much safer than they really are.
  • MAKE REPORTING MANDATORY:  For all intents and purposes, reporting is voluntary.  In fact FAERS (The FDA’s Adverse Events Reporting System) says right on their website that, “Reporting of adverse events and medication errors by healthcare professionals… is voluntary in the United States.”  On their ‘Patient Safety Network,’ another government entity — The AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) — has an article titled, “Voluntary Patient Safety Event Reporting (Incident Reporting)“.   What does “voluntary” really mean in most cases?  It’s sort of like taking a test in school that you are not being graded on, and doesn’t count toward your final score (by the way, this sentence is a tautalogy).  I’m tired, I’m busy, who really cares anyway?  This is not an exaggeration, as according to peer-review, “indifference” and “lack of time” are two of the more common reasons given for not reporting adverse events.

The truth is, I could write a book on this topic. It’s yet one more link in the chain that proves you can’t trust EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE.  Who do I suggest you trust?  Yourself.  It is important to study and figure out what works as far as healthcare is concerned.  Although most physicians decry it, the internet is a great source — if you can weed out the sales pitches and junk. 

I’ve tried to simplify that process for you by providing you information (that’s right folks, it’s completely free) about what it may take for you to regain your health.  Nothing up my sleeve and nothing to sell.  I’ve waded through the oceans of muck to hopefully provide you some diamonds.


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