Like a lot of people, I was pretty freaked out when the news broke last week about a potential link between the prescription drug Singulair and suicides. Singulair, made by Merck, is used to treat asthma (that’s me) and allergies and is available in doses ranging from children to adults.
According to news reports, while there has been no reports of suicides in the 40 clinical trials of Singulair, the FDA is asking Merck to review its clinical findings in regards to mood disorders and suicide. I’m no expert, but it looks like the reason for this is at least four reported suicides, including one in New York last month, where Singulair was involved. Victims are going after Merck for “weak” notification programs that were supposed to alert users to changes regarding the drug’s known side-effects (as listed on patient informational pamphlets).
It’s enough to make you think that the FDA isn’t doing it’s job, or that it’s woefully underfunded, as was reported by the Senate (Dems and GOP alike) in December. And, as Feministing points out, it may just be that Bush’s government doesn’t want to protect the public as much as it wants to protect drug companies.
And this has been going on for the entire decade. Remember the alarm when a link between breast cancer and hormone-replacement-therapy (HRT) was found? And there have been a number of others, including Avelox, Lipitor and Ortho Evra.
It’s all enough to make you afraid to take any prescription drugs at all! But what do you do when you need these drugs to stay alive or stave off serious illness? It’s a horrible kind of catch-22. And meanwhile, the drug companies are getting rich while increasing numbers of Americans are uninsured or under-insured. (A topic that deserves its own post.) To be sure, I’m pissed about the cost of gas at the pump these days, but the cost of prescription drugs — as well as its safety — is a far more frightening thing to me these days.