Raena Morgan: If I go to see my doctor, and he or she writes a prescription for me, what should I be asking. What kind of questions should I be asking?
Dr. Gary Kohls: What are all the side effects?
Morgan: Ok, there you go.
Kohls: Don't be satisfied with three or four, because every drug has dozens, scores of adverse effects. Many of them are uncommon, but even the ones that only happen the 1 percent of the time, you probably deserve to know that. Because there are scores and scores of side effects, the odds are you're going to have one or two or three or four of them and you need to be forewarned. And what are the long term effects? What will happen if I'm on this for a year or two? Especially the psychiatric drugs have not been tested for effectiveness for longer than 8 weeks. Six or eight weeks is all the length of time the drug industry has tested for safety or efficacy.
Morgan: On all of these psychotropic...?
Kohls: On all the psychotropic drugs. There may have been some that have been 12 weeks, but mostly 8 weeks or less. And then if the FDA approves them on modest benefit and relative safety, they'll stamp approval and now that drug gets marketed and nobody even thinks twice about having people on these for a year or a decade and they haven't been proven to be effective or safe for more than six or eight weeks. That's scandalous in my opinion. So maybe you should be asking, well what have the studies shown, how long has it been tested in humans? Has it been tested in combination with the other drug I'm taking? What about the rat studies and the combination of two and they'll have to admit that he doesn't know, she or he doesn't know. Or that they'll say that it hasn't been tested, and that's the truth. No drug company is testing rats, even rats, with more than one drug at a time to find out what the even the short term adverse effects are, much less the long term. And when elderly people are on an average of six, you know, many are, many are more than that. There's no safety studies that show that's safe. What are the adverse effects, we don't know.
So definitely ask about that. What happens if I'm also on another medication. Or are there alternatives to this, and what if my problem is just a fluke? What if my one high blood pressure... is that a fluke? Do I have high blood pressure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or is it just this once? And if it's just this once, why am I being prescribed a drug for something that is transient? And the psychiatric drug? What if I'm just sad because my dog died? Do I need a antidepressant the rest of my life? It's absurd, its absurd. And if he hasn't asked about that, he should.
What about... I've mentioned this before. The rape at 16 has a lot to do with the depression at age 40. And if you're not making that connection, the doctor's missing something there. So is propaxol (?) a treatment for the rape at age 16? No, psychotherapy is going to deal with that? And all the nutritional approaches and that sort of thing too. So, before we accept a drug, we need to find out what are the safer, less costly alternatives. What if and how new the drug is, how much experience is there?
One of the important things in Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen, talks about every miracle drug that eventually turned to be banned was touted as a miracle drug for the first ten years. It was a miracle drug, Prozac was a miracle drug. But then the second decade, all these adverse effects start being reported and we're kind of nervous about this one now... then the third decade then we realized how dangerous they were, and we banned them or discredited them. By then the patent is out so we've changed to a different drug so now there's Cymbalta instead of the discredited Prozac. And so there's a new drug and that's generic anyway, so we ignore it. But then there's a new miracle drug out there until the 10th to 20th year we're sort of thinking its wonderful and then it turns sour. Well, that's because it's only tested for six to eight weeks. We should demand they be tested for 30 years before they go on the market, right? Well, the drug industry wouldn't tolerate that because they need to make their profits on this big investment quicker than that. So they do not allow long term studies.
Morgan: That sounds so cynical.
Kohls: Pretty cynical.
Morgan: Well, thank you very much.
Dr. Gary Kohls offers some great advice on what to ask your doctor and what to talk to them about before taking a prescription. You'll be surprised how how relatively little some drugs are tested before they end up being prescribed by your doctor!
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