Beware of misleading headlines

Caution Tape
Caution Tape (Photo credit: Picture Perfect Pose)

A new article discussing the expanding use of medications in addiction treatment has the following sub heading:

Experts are pushing for a truly medical approach to treating addiction as a disease rather than relying solely on longtime unproven therapies like 12-step programs.

Unproven?

I’m certain a day will come when we have effective pharmacological tools to help addicts initiate and maintain recovery but, beyond detox, I find the current meds pretty underwhelming as a group and troubling in some cases.

When you hear the push for these “scientific”, “medical” and “evidence-based” treatments, keep these exhibits in mind:

A Doctor’s Dilemma: When Crucial New-Drug Data Is Hidden

The positive spin surrounding industry-funded studies — which are, after all, the studies that the government uses to approve drugs — isn’t the only ongoing problem. Goldacre further describes how drug companies hide data about medication risks that affect children, how they attempt to intimidate the employers of researchers who produce results they don’t like, and how they routinely withhold safety data in various other ways that do harm to patients.

A Call for Caution on Antipsychotic Drugs

You will never guess what the fifth and sixth best-selling prescription drugs are in the United States, so I’ll just tell you: Abilify and Seroquel, two powerful antipsychotics. In 2011 alone, they and other antipsychotic drugs were prescribed to 3.1 million Americans at a cost of $18.2 billion, a 13 percent increase over the previous year, according to the market research firm IMS Health….several recent large randomized studies, like the landmark Catie trial, failed to show that the new antipsychotics were any more effective or better tolerated than the older drugs.

It was also soon discovered that the second-generation antipsychotic drugs had serious side effects of their own, namely a risk of increased blood sugar, elevated lipids andcholesterol, and weight gain. They can also cause a potentially irreversible movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia, though the risk is thought to be significantly lower than with the older antipsychotic drugs.

Nonetheless, there has been a vast expansion in the use of these second-generation antipsychotic drugs in patients of all ages, particularly young people. Until recently, these drugs were used to treat a few serious psychiatric disorders. But now, unbelievably, these powerful medications are prescribed for conditions as varied as very mild mood disorders, everyday anxiety, insomnia and even mild emotional discomfort.

Top 10 Drug Company Settlements

Record-breaking multibillion-dollar settlements against big drug companies have become routine in the U.S. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies seem to have been playing a game of one-upmanship, each surpassing yet a new milestone of wrongdoing — fraudulently marketing their drugs or making misleading claims about their safety — and the threat of massive payouts appears to have offered little deterrent.