What are ‘side effects’?
Drug companies like to list side effects as “undesirable” or “unwanted effects” and I suppose that is somewhat true, side effects from Seroxat can include homicide and suicide, and let’s face it, who would want that? These effects are considered ‘adverse‘, in that they are unintended, yet just because an effect is unintended doesn’t mean it isn’t just as potent. But, there is a darker issue afoot when we talk about ‘side effects’ of psychiatric medications. “Side effects” are not really side effects at all, to call them ‘side effects’ is clever wording, it makes us think that they are minimal secondary effects as opposed to the primary effect of what we are being prescribed the drug for. Side effects are just direct effects of a medication, but they are relegated to ‘side effects’ because the drug is not being marketed primarily to induce these symptoms. In the case of Seroxat, the primary effect is meant to alleviate depressive or anxious symptoms and to generally improve mood and give a better sense of wellbeing. It is this primary effect, which Seroxat supposedly induces, that the drug companies concentrate on in order to sell the drug to consumers. A consumer rarely thinks of the side effects as they are usually so keen to experience the promised ‘primary effect’. Although the ‘side effects’ are just as direct as what the drug is being marketed for, a drug company is obviously not going to market seroxat as a prescription for suicide or homicide, even though these effects can often be induced by Seroxat in some people.
So, if the primary effect is apparently beneficial, and the “secondary” are not, how do we weigh the total effects up? How do we make an ‘informed decision’? Well, considering that ‘side effects’ are really not minimal secondary effects but actually direct effects, it would be safe to assume that if the ‘side effects’ (or other direct effects) of the drug outweigh the promised primary effect then the medication is in fact not beneficial overall. Seroxat has horrific side effects (which seem to be growing in number year to year), and quite simply the overall effects of the drug are not beneficial. If we think of an analogy, it might help us to understand. Take alcohol for example- drink companies promote alcohol and the experience of ‘drinking’ as a social, fun and euphoric experience, most people like a few drinks to relax,to unwind or to socialize, at the weekends etc. Alcohol is a socially acceptable drug and chemical; it has been for a long time. Yet, we all know that the the direct effect of alcohol can also induce liver damage, blackouts, alcoholism and worse. These are direct effects just as much as having a good time on alcohol can end in an awful hangover the next day, the hangover is just as much from the alcohol as the good time in the pub before it.
The problem with a lot of medications today is not that they work or they don’t work, it is that drug companies often don’t tell people the truth about ‘direct effects’ (side effects). And also, they often hype (or doctor) the beneficial aspects and downplay (suppress) the negatives. This means that consumers don’t have a chance to make an ‘informed decision‘. Without an ‘informed decision’, people are being prescribed drugs which can have effects that they are completley unaware of, and often the doctors who prescribe them are too. This is the crux of the Seroxat problem and it is the same for many drugs that come on to market. ‘Misinformed‘ consent is false marketing, fraud and deception.
It seems to be a theme in the pharmaceutical industry today to release drugs on to the market of which the total ‘effects’ are unknown until years after, it also seems to be a theme that drug companies just continue to deny the truth until litigation forces them to. Why is it this way? Well, the way I see it is, the pharmaceutical industry is highly competitive and drug companies know that by the time the profit on a drugs lifespan is made, the cost of future litigation hardly puts a small dent in the profits. In other words, by the time the fraud is discovered and the legal system begins to investigate, potentially millions of people have ingested the drug and massive profits are made. Part of these profits go into the pharmaceutical legal war chest and in the end, a huge profit is still made at the expense of hoodwinking the public. It is this total disregard for those harmed by medications that has resulted in such a dark image of Big Pharma in the mind of the public, the individual and the consumer. Only the pharmaceutical industry can rectify this image problem, and it could begin by being truthful, ethical and honest about the ‘direct effects’ of the drugs it promotes.