WASHINGTON – Even if the doctor says a drug is safe, one consumer organization warned Americans Wednesday that patients ought do some research before filling a prescription.
A new Web site produced by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen (search) hopes to make that process easier by listing 181 drugs they say patients shouldn't use because they are too dangerous or simply ineffective.
"When people are taking drugs and getting injured or killed from drugs that are more dangerous — ... the worse pills as opposed to the safer, better pills — then there is a serious problem," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, author of the prescription guide "Best Pills, Worst Pills."
Several new studies have warned that two popular painkillers may increase the chances of a heart attack. But the pharmaceutical industry says relying on a Web site to determine one's medication probably isn't the best way to take care of oneself.
"If people use that information as a substitute for seeing their doctor and it ends up scaring them into stopping the use of a medicine that's been prescribed by their doctor, then those Web sites can be harmful," said Paul Antony, chief medical officer for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (search).
The pharmaceutical industry points out that over 10,000 medicines have been put on the market by the Food and Drug Administration (search) over the years, of which only 2.7 percent have been pulled. That's about 270 drugs removed from the market.
But Wolfe said just because a drug is still on the market doesn't mean it is safe, especially when the FDA is pressured by the drug companies to hasten testing to put drugs on the market. He added that many problems with drugs are found within the first few years on the market.
That's why Public Citizen is advising patients to use only those drugs that have been out for at least seven years unless they're labeled "breakthrough drugs." Breakthrough drugs are those that are one of a kind and cannot be substituted by other options.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Caroline Shively.