Drug regulators and drug companies are prepared to accept that at least 100,000 people in America alone die from an adverse reaction to a drug every year.
This statistic is based on a self-regulating system that is initiated and funded by the drugs industry. There’s also something self-fulfilling about it. If, for example, a patient dies from heart complications while on a drug, and the list of adverse reactions don’t include heart problems, the doctor will conclude that death was due to natural causes.
Recognizing the problems, a group of investigators got together in 1998 to create RADAR (Research on Adverse Drug events And Reports), and started to do their own research. They reviewed the cases of 1699 patients who suffered an ‘unexpected clinical event’ and discovered they had experienced an adverse reaction to a drug, which, in the case of 169 patients, was fatal. In total, they uncovered 16 different reactions that had not been observed before, and so doctors had not suspected the drug as the culprit.
The RADAR team suggests that a new post-marketing surveillance system for drugs may be in order.
It’s one of those under-statements that just make you love medical researchers.