Monday, June 27, 2011

New Scientist: Do we need citizen medicine?

Pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and drugs. All of them have, at one point or another, saved our lives. But are they always helpful? Janet Krska and Tony Avery discuss the possibilities of suffering from adverse drug reactions that may actually kill you. Fevers, aches, nausea and many more effects on the body may be caused by drugs. Although most of them are written on the box some may be specific to each human being and their physiology. It seems that patients can actually report their ADR's toa Yellow Card system in the UK. This system analyzes each particular ADR and if enough people suffer from it, will alert the proper pharmaceutical company to modify their drug or totally remove it from the market. Similar systems function across the whole European Union.

"ADR's have reached epidemic proportions... increasing at twice the rate of prescriptions. The European Commision estimated adverse reactions kill 197,000 EU citizens annualy, at a cost of €79 billion. "

 This is actually the first time I have heard of such report systems and the article gives the same view. Over 90 per cent of ADR's are not reported, patients reports are not taken seriously and medical professionals do not take action when ADR's are reported directly to them. Most patients are scared that healthcare officials will dismiss their symptoms as common side effects of the drug. In my humble opinion, patient reporting could be a very useful tool in detecting the pharmaceuticals that are of more danger than helpfulness. Medicine has to accept aid from sources that are not professionals since ADR's cannot be solely identified by them.