I received this story from a colleague, detailing the travesty of Canadian MDs recommending drugs “off-label” and the horrendous side effects that may occur as a result.
Prescribing drugs “off-label” means using them for purposes not thoroughly researched and approved, a latitude that many doctors exercise based on their personal opinion, though the medicines have not been demonstrated to be safe and effective by accepted scientific study.
For the first time, data on the serious consequences of this dangerous practice will be disclosed, a departure from the original policy to release the report without this information, according to Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose. She says that over a hundred drugs are being scrutinized for inappropriate prescription, some not yet identified because they are in varying stages of investigation.
This exposé, conducted by “The Star,” found that federal regulators were concealing critical details from public awareness, and pressed Health Canada to reveal the relevant findings. Their analysis uncovered almost 400 patients that suffered severe reactions to such medications, including deaths, heart attacks, strokes, birth defects, organ failures and “spontaneous” abortions.
To get the input they needed, reporters sought the cooperation of America’s Food and Drug Administration, which collects public side-effect data reports from Canada and around the world. What they discovered was so compelling that Health Canada had no choice but to come clean.
Dr. Joel Lexchin of York University, a leading authority on drug safety in Canada, is advocating that such decision-making and policy-setting should be in the hands of a public agency, not private special-interest corporations with a potentially self-serving agenda.
Until then, it’s likely that many Canadian doctors, like their US counterparts, will continue to prescribe powerful drugs to unsuspecting patients, often without clearance to do so and sometimes ignoring warnings that this kind of application could cause significant harm, as illustrated by the following:
One 85-year-old man was given the anti-psychotic Seroquel to treat insomnia, and died of a heart attack, apparently linked to the drug. Diane-35, a controversial acne medication that has already been banned in France, seems to have increased the risk of potentially fatal blood-clotting in at least thirteen Canadian teen-agers. Also, twenty babies were born with birth defects allegedly because mothers were given anti-nausea medicine Ondansetron for morning sickness.
Those who know me and for those who read this column knows that I support good medicine, but am vigilantly opposed to bad medicine. Thanks to The Star and the thoroughness of the FDA’s record-keeping to shine light on these nightmarish transgressions – let’s hope it ushers in an era of openness and common sense that safeguards the health future of all, encouraging people to seek natural alternatives where possible instead of unpredictable and unnecessary chemical toxins, especially off-label. No matter how good the intention, poisoning people is wrong, and it must stop.
Yours for Better Health, Dr. Shapero
EXPECT MIRACLES – WE DO