Thursday, 10 May 2018

THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF PATIENTS. Is it an important issue?

The German car company, BMW, has recalled 312,000 cars because of safety concerns. The cars may be affected by an electrical fault which can cause the engine to cut out completely whilst on the road. Alex Neill, of the magazine Which? has said the recall raised “serious questions about the adequacy of the car recall system in this country” as the issue had been raised a year earlier but only 36,000 were recalled.

               “Drivers will be asking why it took so long for BMW to fully recall these potentially dangerous cars in the UK, several years later than recalls around the same fault in a number of other countries.”

It is good to know that in this sphere, as in most other spheres of life, our concern about health and safety is considered to be sufficiently important to ensure that if there is any suspicion of danger that action is required to be taken.

Yet there is one area of our life, health care and treatment, where 'health and safety' concerns are NOT considered to be so important.

Antibiotic Drugs. These drugs, so long considered a miracle drug, and used routinely with millions of patients, are now implicated in causing all kinds of conditions emanating from the gut, including obesity, diarrhoea, iIrritable bowl disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, non-hodgkin's lymphoma, liver damage, diabetes, asthma, eczema, heart disease, breast cancer, mental disorders, and much else.

Statin Drugs. These frequently prescribed drugs have been implicated in causing death, liver dysfunction, kidney failure, diabetes, cataracts, muscle weakness and dementia. Yet they have never been withdrawn or banned, and they are prescribed to, and taken by millions of patients every day.

Painkillers. These commonplace drugs are known to cause the hospitalisation of millions every year, they can cause hearing loss, cardiovascular problems and heart failure, gastrointestinal disease, miscarriage, allergic reactions, and much more. Even doctors are reluctant to prescribe them now, in all the many form painkilling drugs now take, but they continue to be sold openly and cheaply 'over-the-counter' in any pharmacy and supermarket.

Benzodiazepine Drugs. The long-term dangers of these drugs has been known for decades but they still continue to be prescribed by doctors. The side effects include sleep disturbances, rebound insomnia, elevated anxiety, panic attacks, vision problems, tremors, seizures, psychosis and hallucination - yet nothing has ever done about them.

What all these pharmaceutical drugs have in common is that, despite their known dangers to patients, nothing is ever done to protect us from them. There is plentiful evidence of harm, but no action ever follows. The same can be said of antidepressant drugs, beta blocker drugs, steroids, and virtually any other kind of pharmaceutical drug and vaccine that is still sold to the public.

So whilst BMW might be facing justifiable criticism, the pharmaceutical drugs industry does not. Whilst motorists might feel they are being protected by health and safety laws and procedures, patients cannot feel they are being protected by medical science, or the drug regulation agencies. When it concerns our health, apparently, our health and safety does not appear to be important!

The precautionary principle is just not applied to conventional medicine, and to pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines in particular. Many pharmaceuticals are eventually withdrawn or banned but not until they have been harming patients, often for many decades.

  • When there are suspicions that a drug is causing harm we are told that there is no proof (usually because no-one has ever bothered to investigate and find the necessary proof).
  • When studies begin to prove that a drug is causing harm the research is either ignored, or it is said that the link is not 'causal', or that anyway "the benefits outweigh the advantages".
  • Only when there is irrefutable proof of a link between a drug and patient harm are prescribing restrictions imposed on doctors.
  • Only when this irrefutable proof continues, when patients become reluctant to take the drug, and so it becomes less profitable for the drug companies, is the drug withdrawn or banned.
So let's apply this to BMW drivers. Your car might be dangerous to drive, but there is no 'definite proof' that there is a fault with the car. When several other BMW drivers have the same fault the risk is considered slight, or restricted just to a handful of cars, and in any case the benefits of driving a BMW outweighs the disadvantages. When a BMW catches fire, and people are killed (one man has apparently died in the USA) there may be some minor restrictions imposed, for instance on when, where and how the car is driven, but it is still considered acceptable the BMW drivers take the known risks involved. Only when there are LOTS of cars affected, only when LOTS of BMW drivers complain, only when LOTS MORE people are harmed and killed, only when there is a danger that BMW drivers might refuse to buy another BMW car, is any action taken.

This is not acceptable, is it? So why should it be acceptable for patients taking pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines?