Let me say it outright: I do not believe prescription drugs should be marketed to the general public. I don’t know what the government was thinking when they allowed that, since the only benefit could be to sell more drugs by drumming up patient demand.
Patients, however, know nothing about pharmacology or medicine. Nothing good can come of their pressing their doctors to get a particular drug.
I understand that clinical depression is a serious thing that can be helped by medication and I am all for that, as long as it is up to a psychiatrist to choose the drug. Some pretty heavy-duty anti-psychotics are being marketed to the public as treatments for simple depression today, a situation which makes me crazy.
In fact, it’s like Crazy Town out there–these are serious drugs with serious side effects–do we really want patients clamoring for them?
Which brings me to the TV ads for prescription depression drugs, which are required (apparently) to list all significant and possible side effects. These prescription drug warnings can make a TV ad seem like a Saturday Night Live satire.
Such was the case the other night, when M and I saw an ad for a drug called Latuda. We were riveted to it, especially the warnings. Here they are:
If you’re struggling with bipolar depression…Ask your doctor if once a day Latuda may help you….Latuda is not for everyone…call your doctor about unusual mood changes, behaviors or suicidal thoughts; anti-depressants can increase these in children, teens and young adults. Elderly dementia patients on Latudea have an increased risk of death or stroke.
Call your doctor about fever, stiff muscles or confusion as these may be signs of a life-threatening reaction or if you have uncontrollable muscle movements as these may be permanent. High blood sugar has been seen..and in extreme cases can lead to coma or death. Other risks include decreased white blood cells, which can be fatal…dizziness on standing, seizures, increased cholesterol, weight or prolactin; trouble swallowing and impaired judgment. Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice. Use caution before driving or operating machinery. There are paths for treating bipolar depression…ask your doctor if Latuda is right for you.
Wait a minute. Uncontrollable muscle movements may be PERMANENT??? Imagine that you’ve asked your doctor for this drug, take it, and get this kind of permanent side effect. PERMANENT, as in “won’t go away.” Not to mention the multiple opportunities to die from the drug.
It wasn’t funny, but M and I began to laugh. “Seriously? Who would TAKE this drug?” he asked. “Doesn’t this sound like a satire?”
I get that people in a Willam Styron-like black hole of depression are desperate for relief. At the same time, WTF kind of drugs are we giving them? And suggesting they ask their physicians for?
An even bigger issue is the approval process for drugs here in the U.S., in which pharmaceutical companies are in bed with physicians doing the testing and the FDA. It is a complex system that works against drug safety, in my opinion. Reform is necessary, but big drug companies have deep pockets and active lobbies.
Who is really looking out for the consumer and our safety? It’s definitely Crazy Town out there. Take as few prescription drugs as you possibly can.
Maybe we should all just smoke weed. It’s far safer.