Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Medications have risks, too

Liver Damage in 13 patients with Xenical/Alli

CBS link

This may or may not be the end of this story. We will only have to trust the FDA - Fen/Phen took a few years to have its major risks identified. 36 million people may have had prescriptions, but probably not 1 in 100 are taking it long term. How different would the data look if it ends up with 130, or even 1300 people injured out of 500,000 taking it more than a year? The benefit of taking this drug is not demonstrated to extend life expectancy (no non-surgical method has). What is the risk/benefit calculation if there is only minimal benefit???

I am not terribly worried about this drug, but the "next" med that actually has as much effect as Fen-Phen. Any new really effective med will sell like hotcakes (and be prescribed liberally). Any drug maker is in a huge rush to get to market for the BILLIIONS of dollars they will make with a winner. Just be careful with new things, whether operations or meds.

The sleeve gastrectomy only has a few large groups published more than 5 years out, but has been performed for more than 10 years... We have a lot to learn about exact techniques and effectiveness and patient selection, but the long-term issues seem to be limited to Reflux.

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