More reasons to skip 9 out of 10 new drugs

Big Pharma keeps pumping out worthless drugs. In fact, according to a new review, 90 percent of all new drugs that hit the market over the past three decades are no more effective–or just slightly more effective–than older, proven drugs.

That means only 10 percent of new drugs over the last 30 years represented true therapeutic breakthroughs. And the FDA turns a blind eye to it all.

This shocking new data comes from a soon-to-be-published review of the pharmaceutical industry by my colleague Donald Light, Ph.D. and his coworkers. Dr. Light is a resident fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Through another colleague, Dr. William Steinsmith, I became privy to an advance copy of Dr. Light’s review, which will be published in an upcoming special issue of the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (JLME). In this case the title says it all, “Risky Drugs: Why the FDA Cannot be Trusted.”

I have always suspected, the main reason Big Pharma keeps pumping out most new drugs is to make more money. And the FDA happily plays along.

Here’s how it works…

When a patent expires on an older, proven drug, Big Pharma doesn’t make money anymore on that drug. So they make a new drug. And they get the public to buy the new drug because we all assume newer = better.

But newer does not = better. In fact, as Dr. Light’s review shows, 90 percent of the time, newer does not = better!

This has been my strong impression for the past 30 years. And in my Daily Dispatch, I have often cautioned readers against taking new drugs. For example, if you must take a blood pressure drug, I always recommend you consult with your doctor to find one that’s been on the market for at least seven years. (Or better yet, find one that’s been on the market 17 years. That’s the patent “life” of a drug.)

So, if the vast majority of new drugs do not work better, are they at least safer?

The answer is a resounding “no.”

Over the past three decades, FDA “approved” drugs have caused an epidemic of harmful side effects. Even when properly prescribed.

In fact, every week, 53,000 patients get hospitalized after taking drugs exactly as ordered. And every week, 2,400 of them die after taking drugs exactly as ordered.

With those kinds of numbers, it’s no surprise that prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. today. This puts them right up there with heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Aside from fatalities and hospitalizations, prescription drugs also cause 80 million patients to suffer silently at home and at work. They experience “tolerable” side effects that range from chronic pain and dizziness to indigestion and sleepiness.

And many of these side effects don’t come to light until years after the new drug achieves FDA approval. Take Ambien, for example. We didn’t learn about patients “sleep-driving” and “sleep-eating” while on Ambien until the patent for the drug was about to expire, nearly 17 years after it became FDA approved.

You have to marvel at the timing, don’t you? Isn’t it amazing how often the FDA suddenly “discovers” a dangerous side effect after the new drug hits the market? Or even after the drug’s patent expires?

The situation should make us either want to either laugh or cry. It makes me want to do both, really. Especially when I hear mainstream medical mouthpieces and “expert” researchers drone on about the supposed “dangers” of herbs and nutritional supplements!

Let’s set the record straight, right now.

Pharmaceutical agents caused 2,739,254 adverse events between 2008 and 2011, according to a March 2013 report by the General Accounting Office. Yet nutritional supplements caused 6,307 adverse events for the same years.

And these supplement “events” were simply the number of reports. It does not tell us how many of them were interactions between relatively mild supplements and much more potent drugs. Nor does it prove that the supplement caused the problem, not the drug. But, of course, the drug is “supposed” to be there, while the supplement is not. So, when there is a drug-supplement interaction, the mainstream knee-jerk reaction is to blame the supplement. And ask questions later, if ever, about the drugs.

Summing up, one in five new drugs cause serious harm. Yet, just one in 10 show benefits. This is the opposite of what the public should expect from the FDA.

Dr. Light and his colleagues argue that it all started to go downhill when the drug industry began making large contributions to the FDA for reviewing their new drugs. It also makes large campaign contributions to politicians.

So Big Pharma has both bases covered. It pays off the elected ignoramuses who understand nothing about health or medicine. And it also pays off the unelected (and ultimately unaccountable) bureaucrats at the FDA who are supposed to know about it. Too bad we can never vote them out!

The American public may never recover from this one-two punch. In fact, it appears that the American public has been taken “down for the count.” While the only thing Big Pharma is counting is their profits.