NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 20, 2004

The alleged dangers of the drug Vioxx have garnered much publicity, but consumers should realize that all drugs come with both costs and benefits, concludes a new report by BusinessWeek.

Merck, the manufacturer of Vioxx, reportedly downplayed evidence of possible risks for heart problems. Yet, according to BusinessWeek, there is more than enough blame to go around:

  • The Food and Drug Administration's long and costly drug approval process can never pick up all the side effects or benefits of a drug.
  • Patients are overmedicated; many health problems are better solved by a change of diet or lifestyle than treatment with drugs.
  • Doctors often do not heed even the sternest health warnings issued by the FDA when prescribing a drug.

Ultimately, says BusinessWeek, society needs to understand that drugs are a double-edged sword in that they are potentially dangerous and should be used cautiously. In addition, doctors need to stay up-to-date with the latest pharmaceutical literature in order to better serve their patients.

Source: John Carey et al., "Lessons From the Vioxx Fiasco," BusinessWeek, November 29, 2004.

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