I would hope that even the most naive of us do not think that pharmaceutical companies have the patient’s best interest in mind. Drug companies are large companies with the goal of making money for its principles and shareholders. Any benefit to the patient is usually secondary. History has presented us with many examples of how large businesses have concealed the truth of the dangers of their drugs.
Troglizitone and liver failure. Vioxx and heart attacks. Hormone replacement having no benefit. Cigarette smoking being good for us. Baychol and fatal rhabdomyalysis. I’m sure there are many more, but these are the quick ones off the top of my head.
When it comes to diabetic drugs, almost every drug out there is more likely to kill you before you die of diabetic complications. Sulfonylureas destroy the beta cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. TZDs like Actos lead to weight gain. The new classes of drugs that affect GLP-1 signalling may increase the risk of thyroid cancer and lord knows what else.
Interestingly, Actos and Avandia, used for diabetes, greatly increases the risk of a patient getting congestive heart failure. Considering that 70% of diabetic die of cardiovascular complications, one could say this is a slight problem…
The problem with all the drugs on the market today is that we just don’t know. We don’t know what the true long term effects are. We don’t know what the true dangers of the drug are. Everyone who takes a new drug for the first 20 or 30 years are participating in a very large, non-randomized clinical trial. Many times it is not until decades later that someone realizes that drug A increased the risk of condition C; the relationship might never have been noticed until someone paid attention and then asked the question. 10 years ago, how many people who had heart attacks were wondering whether their anti-inflammatory drug caused it?
This particular note in British Medical Journal relates to the manufacturer of Actos suppressing information on the drugs’ increased risk of both congestive heart failure and bladder cancer. While this is only a brief report of a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled employee, past examples makes one believe the lawsuit has merit.