Dr. Peter Gotzsche, a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration- the world’s foremost body in assessing medical evidence- will arrive in Australia on Monday to speak to Australians about their use of prescription medications. The Dr. estimates that 100,000 people die in the U.S. every year from the side-effects of correctly used drugs. That’s right- correctly used drugs.
His biggest targets are antidepressants and painkillers (like ibuprofen, diclofenac and celecoxib). He takes issue with their claim to be anti-inflammatory, something he says is not supported by evidence (a Lancet review last year found ibuprofen to be as toxic to the heart as Vioxx, a drug that was withdrawn after it caused up to 140,000 cases of serious heart disease- half the cases were thought to be fatal). Dr. Gotzsche feels that those deaths are just the beginning and are more representative of a broken and flawed system that doesn’t protect patients. And quite frankly, I’d say it’s a system that really only sees patients as dollar signs.
From the article:
“These terms for our drugs are invented by the drug industry,” he said. “They had a huge financial interest in calling these things anti-inflammatory. It lured doctors into believing that these drugs somehow also had an effect on the disease process and reduced the joint damage.”
Gotzsche also takes issue with antidepressants and believes they cause more harm than good; they are both addictive and their side-effects are dangerous, and research showed that small benefits over placebos was biased (it didn’t properly hide which patients were in the active or placebo group).
Sadly, the Dr. sees the biggest victims as the elderly. More from the article:
“‘Those who use arthritis drugs are mostly the elderly who are most at risk of dying of a heart attack caused by the drug or a bleeding ulcer,’ he said. ‘We have a high use of psychiatric drugs by the elderly and we kill an enormous amount of them.
These people get shoved in a nursing home and they get aggravated, so they’re knocked out with an antipsychotic drug – it’s very inhumane,’ Gotzsche said.”
Gotzsche thinks that many doctors over prescribe because they mistake withdrawal symptoms for depression and therefore quickly return patients to normal doses (antidepressant medications take some time to begin working). “If you get depressed by lowering the dose and then immediately increase it to the normal dose, you will usually be well in a couple of hours,” he said. “But if you get better straight away it is withdrawal, not depression”, reports the Herald.
Here’s a quick summary of the medications Dr. Gotzsche encourages people to avoid:
- No Antidepressants as they likely won’t work, even in severe cases of depression.
- Avoid all brain-active drugs in children (THANK YOU).
- No anti-psychotics and other brain-active drugs for the elderly. Psychotropic drugs should be used as little as possible and mostly in very acute situations, as they are very harmful when used long term.
- Anti-dementia drugs, as they very likely don’t work.
- Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs used for arthritis, muscle pain and headaches- including over-the-counter, low-dose ibuprofen. Use as little as possible.
- Mammography screening. It doesn’t prolong life but may make a healthy woman ill by over diagnosis/incorrect diagnosis (and lead to premature death because of radiotherapy and chemotherapy). I personally use thermography for breast health.
- Drugs for urinary incontinence, as they very likely don’t work
It is truly refreshing to see a Dr. speak out against big pharma and instead choose what’s best for his patients. Australia you are lucky to have him there- listen well and take good notes!
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By Erin Elizabeth