03 April 2007

another med bites the dust...

last night, while suffering the pains of yet another bout of gi upset, i thought about the recent medication therapies offered to me for my latest body wars. several years ago, after my first set of surgeries, i went through a rather rough period of time during which i suffered nearly constant abdominal pain. during that time, though, i did discover a few meds that helped. one of them, zelnorm, was released toward the end of my struggle, so i only took it for a few months, but i did find some benefit from it. it was one of the meds mr_dr_do and i considered when i saw him last week. i decided to take a different route, but with my latest symptoms, the medication came to mind again last night as a possible solution. that was, until i opened up my web browser today....

it turns out that the fda has decided to recall zelnorm due to some "serious side effects" that it has observed in a certain percentage of patients recently. this represents drug #3 that i've taken in the past ten years that has been pulled from the market in this manner. which makes me wonder: if zelnorm has now been on the market since 2002 and they're just now pulling it off, does that mean that the fda was over-hasty in its initial approval of the drug? how come the pre-marketing studies did not reveal these problems? i was under the impression (perhaps false?) that the u.s. has one of the more stringent approval codes/processes for pharmaceuticals--but this makes me wonder, particularly as i'm reading about this on the heels of removal of a new parkinson's drug we just studied for a pbl case....

i know the media will be rife with lawsuits now (a quick google search to find the fda page for zelnorm told me that much), but one must wonder--what happens to the patients who were benefiting from this drug? i can't imagine anything quite so depressing as having a disease like ibs, finally finding a drug that works, and then having it pulled from the market. i guess one could say that the parkinson's situation is worse--but i'm not the sort of person who believes that suffering can be compared--so, either way, i feel for these patients.

i also am experiencing one of those moments in which it's becoming readily apparent that my medical education may be obselete before it even begins. we were recently asked by our school to upgrade to the latest pharmacology text, fresh off the press from lange. guess what its recommended treatment is for ibs? yes, you guessed it, zelnorm. lovely. it makes me wonder--what's the point of even having a pharmacology textbook if it's out-of-date as soon as it's published (if not before it even hits the press)? couldn't we have a more effective learning tool with an online text that is continually updated? i keep wondering when the medical education system will match up to the electronic era, but it seems we're not there yet.

yet another case of one step forward, two steps back....

2 comments:

j.p. said...

i've had meds i've taken in the past pulled from the market as well. it can be a bit scary to find out.

as the doc i saw last week said, "the fda isn't a scientific group, but a political one (but that'll be my last editorial comment)."

money and politics get drugs pushed through quickly. and the majority of the original testing is all done by the drug companies, who are able to set up perfect conditions (only accepting certain candidates) for the testing. and in the end, we get screwed.

it is surprising that they don't have online texts for you all yet. i guess it would be too big of a hassle for the publishers to deal with the constant updates. after all, once something's published, they don't want to look at it again until it will earn them more money.

but i'm not cynical or anything. ;)

kristina said...

Before children, I used to work in marketing for a dot-com that targeted the legal industry. It was widely known that legal was the #2 most conventional market (preferring to use texts to online sources) and therefore hard to break into. What was number one? You guessed it - medical.

But that was a good 7 years ago - a lifetime in online years. Huge steps have been taken already, and I wouldn't be surprised if there won't be online pharmacological texts available very soon. For now, is there a reliable online pharmacology website out there that you can double-check?

a little disclaimer...

i'm a medical student. just a student. so please, don't take anything i say too seriously. remember that i was an english literature major as an undergrad, so there is much fiction to be found in these pages. do you think i'm telling a story about you or your illness? more likely, you're tapping into my sense of "everyman"--that is, your story resonates with what i write here because it's not so uncommon after all. need help? please, please go see your physician. <--i'm not her. yet. ;-)