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Be Well
Dr. Jamie Fettig

Why Trust me, Dr. Jamie?

All Drugs are Dangerous, just give them enough time to find out why

Another Drug Horror Story

In a previous newsletter I told you how pharmaceutical companies use "Number Needed to Treat" to hype the benefits of cholesterol-lowering drugs while hiding the dangers. In fact, relying on NNT as the sole determinant of drug efficacy can have deadly consequences - and not only with statins.

Consider Vioxx. Dangers associated with this NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) first appeared in Merck studies around 1998 - but were buried under an avalanche of NNT. The NNT for Vioxx was an exciting 2.2. In other words, it indicated that (statistically speaking) for every 2.2 patients who were treated with Vioxx, one patient would be relieved of pain.

That sounded great. But the over-emphasis of this one statistic caused medical professionals and patients alike to overlook the dangers. Vioxx remained on the market, wreaking havoc for five years before it was finally withdrawn. Once known as "the safest NSAID in history," the FDA estimated that it injured 88,000 to 139,000 Americans - and resulted in death for as many as 40% of those people.

Before you consider taking any drug, you should thoroughly investigate the risks associated with it. The information is out there - but don't rely on the pharmaceutical companies or even a doctor to tell you about it. It's YOUR body. Take responsibility.

(Reference: Congressional Testimony)

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