When confronted with a life-altering illness we depend on our doctors to provide the best treatment for our condition. As you begin treatment the hope is that your doctor discusses both the positives and negatives of any treatment so you’re decision is based on informed consent. The pharmaceutical companies job is to bring new products to market to improve our health, but unfortunately many don’t know what the long term impact of their inventions will be.
If you have seen one of the many medication commercials on television you’ll notice that at some point in the commercial a voice will come on giving you the potential side effects. The difficult part is that this may only be a short list of the possible side effects. There are two parts to this dilemma, the lack of long term data and the lack of reporting by us the consumer.
Studies show that doctors and patients seldom report adverse reactions (side effects) to the drug manufacturer. As pilgrims on the journey to health it’s important that your voice be heard. Remember in school when the teacher would “ask your question because others have the same question”? The same is true with medication side effects, if you’re having them the odds are good someone else is having them. If we don’t come forth this doesn’t get documented and accurate and informed decisions about treatment options don’t get made.
Stepping out of the patients place of anonymity you do two things; you allow you doctor to help with the side effects either by altering the dose, changing the medication or in all likelihood giving you one prescription to handle the side effects. Second is that you are speaking for many people who are taking the same medication. You have the opportunity to become a partner with your physician and the pharmaceutical company in creating medications that retain their efficacy while diminishing side effects.
The other important factor is that when doctors or patients inform the pharmaceutical company about the side effect, they are required to include that information to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This allows the FDA to make better decisions about the safety of a medication. Do your part, don’t stay quiet! If you have side effects, report them and become part of the solution.