In 2010, for the first time in United States history, drug-related deaths (nearly 37,000) outranked traffic fatalities. Prescription drugs have become increasingly prominent, and increasingly dangerous when mixed with alcohol or other drugs, in the past ten years. Most drug-related deaths are caused by accidental overdoses or unintended side effects, but others are related to mislabeling, drug contamination, etc. With drug recalls occurring every week due to these reasons, its frightening to think that nearly half of all Americans (approximately 150 million) rely upon prescription drugs.
FDA Warns Against Use of Drospirenone Birth Control Pills
Drospirenone birth control pills, such as Yaz and Yasmin, have been found to increase potassium levels, which can lead to life-threatening effects such as heart attacks, heart problems, blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks.
According to the FDA advisory, this type of birth control pill may cause a 1.5-fold increase in the risk of blood clots for women, compared to users of other hormonal contraceptives. Drospirenone remains on the market today, but users should be aware of the possible complications, and consult their doctor before beginning or discontinuing use.
The FDA has scheduled a joint meeting with the Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee for December 8, 2011 to discuss the risks of drospirenone-containing birth control pills.
Propecia Label Change
Propecia, a drug designed to treat male-pattern hair loss and enlarged prostate glands, recently underwent a FDA mandated label change to include the warning risk of prostate cancer.
Propecia is also known to cause Erectile Dysfunction (ED), testicular pain or discomfort, itching, swelling, and a decreased sexual drive. According to medical experts, some of these side effects may be irreversible.
Controversial Case May Shield Generic Pharmaceutical Companies from Liability
The recent five-to-four court ruling Pilva v. Mensing may put Americans at risk by limiting the liability of generic pharmaceutical companies. As of 2011, generic drugs and name-brand drugs differ significantly, not in their chemical make-up, but in the rights patients have if they are affected adversely by the drug. For example, if one patient chooses a brand name drug and the other a generic, if they both experience adverse effects, one may sue the brand name corporation for reparations while the other cannot seek reparations for the generic.
Why the imbalance in the legal system if the drugs are nearly identical? Because generics have been heavily promoted by the government as a way to increase the health of Americans by reducing the costs of prescriptions, making them more readily available to consumers. While most Americans have benefited from generics, there are those who have been seriously injured or killed by these pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, since generics have less financial backing than larger corporations, they also have less finances stored for liability purposes.
Today, more than 75 percent of all drugs sold in the US are generic, and if generics are available, consumers will choose them 90% of the time over name brands (mostly because they're cheaper). Now that more than 7 out of every 10 drugs sold is a generic, this court decision means that over 70% of consumers using prescriptions could be without the means of seeking compensation.