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Slew of drugs proven not to work

Health Pharmaceuticals 2008

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#1 Palisades

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 01:11 PM

Drugs that don't work:
  • Vytorin
  • Zetia
  • Avandia
  • Antidepressants (Prozac, Effexor, Paxil and Serzone)
  • Avastin
To which we can add Vioxx and Celebrex -- well okay, they alleviate arthritis symptoms at the price of destroying the drug user's heart so some may consider that working.

Now, why should taxpayers be on the hook for paying for these drugs, again?

I'm just bringing this up because in a thread a while back I was ridiculed for a claim I made regarding Western medicine and its ability (or lack thereof) to provide effective treatment for chronic conditions.

Edited by An Affirming Flame, 04 April 2008 - 01:17 PM.

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#2 QueenTiye

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 02:41 PM

Have we got a similar list of drugs that Do work?  (That don't work list is pretty short)

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#3 Themis

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 02:49 PM

I'm on Effexor and it works just fine for me.  (Actually I'm on its generic now) I've been without it and on different doses - this one I'll keep.  Vytorin, however - I've just had my 2nd heart stent so however great the cholesterol readings were, it doesn't seem to have prevented any plaque buildup.

Edited by Themis, 04 April 2008 - 02:53 PM.

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#4 Bad Wolf

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 03:17 PM

It's amazing how easily the word "proven" gets bandied around.

What we have here is ONE study.  We don't know what that study entailed, and we don't know how many other studies are out there.

Just to clarify, here is a definition of the word "proven":

proved: established beyond doubt; "a proven liar"; "a Soviet leader of proven shrewdness"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

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#5 Kosh

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 03:27 PM

Effexor has been keeping me from hurting people for over four years. I've tried backing off, but I get real mean again, and want to cause a lot of trouble for people around me. Works very well.
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#6 Kosh

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 03:29 PM

View PostAn Affirming Flame, on Apr 4 2008, 02:11 PM, said:

Drugs that don't work:
  • Vytorin
  • Zetia
  • Avandia
  • Antidepressants (Prozac, Effexor, Paxil and Serzone)
  • Avastin
To which we can add Vioxx and Celebrex -- well okay, they alleviate arthritis symptoms at the price of destroying the drug user's heart so some may consider that working.

Now, why should taxpayers be on the hook for paying for these drugs, again?

I'm just bringing this up because in a thread a while back I was ridiculed for a claim I made regarding Western medicine and its ability (or lack thereof) to provide effective treatment for chronic conditions.


I've also known many people on Paxil and Prozac, and both are very effective. You have to be careful with Prozac, it's harder to nail down who should take it, but it works well for most people.
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#7 gsmonks

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 02:28 PM

Several of these claims have been debunked.

I take paroxetine (Paxil) for bi-polar disorder (what they used to call Manic-Depression) and it's the closest thing out there to a cure. The finding that Paxil is as good as a placebo was only done in cases where it was prescribed as an anti-depressent.

The problem here is that Paxil is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, not an antidepressent, and no matter how many times you tell psychiatrists the two are very different types of medications, most of them will try to argue with you.

In my case I volunteered for an absolutely awful invasive test that would definitively show where my serotonin levels were at because I was sick to death of guesswork and speculation. The tests showed that my serotonin level was very low, which in turn explained why I'd been having awful problems since childhood.

The first month of taking Paxil was absolutely awful, but at some point it kicked in and literally gave me my life back.

It is true that some people taking Paxil have done kooky and sometimes awful things, but in every case these people have been prescribed the drug as an antidepressent.

The moral to the story is: Don't believe everything you read, and don't believe everything you're told.
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#8 BklnScott

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 02:36 PM

View PostThemis, on Apr 4 2008, 03:49 PM, said:

I'm on Effexor and it works just fine for me.  (Actually I'm on its generic now) I've been without it and on different doses - this one I'll keep.  Vytorin, however - I've just had my 2nd heart stent so however great the cholesterol readings were, it doesn't seem to have prevented any plaque buildup.

Keep takin' it -- Effexor is an EXCELLENT drug, far far better than first-gen SSRIs like Prozac and Paxil.  

However, this bit of the article is certainly true:

Quote

Their findings raise questions about the use of antidepressants, the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. The study, led by Irving Kirsch of the University of Hull, concludes that less severely depressed patients might benefit just as much from therapy, exercise or other non-medical interventions.

I can't stress enough that taking an SSRI without being in talk-therapy is a bad idea.  For most people, that just leads you to learn to tolerate the root causes you should be working to correct so you can not be depressed and medicated.  If your depression/anxiety issues are bad enough to warrant taking a drug that you have to wean off to avoid withdrawal symptoms, then they're bad enough to warrant seeing a therapist on a regular basis (i.e., at least twice a month).  

And no one who is thinking about taking an SSRI should do so before spending a month doing regular cardio (i.e., 3 times a week).  It works wonders.

Edited by ScottEVill, 05 April 2008 - 02:38 PM.

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#9 Mel

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 03:43 PM

The thing about antidepressants and some of those studies is that I'm not sure they're showing that they don't work, but rather, that we don't know how to use them very well yet.  How many people here either taking anti-depressants or knowing people who take anti-depressants ended up on the first one they tried.  Based on my (admittedly small) sample most people seem to take at least 2-3 tries to find the anti-depressant they "click" with.  Others, even others of the same class, don't help, make them sick from side-effects, or just don't do anything.  (I know an anti-depressant that worked great for me in the past made one of my friends suicidal.)  So if you just take a large group of people and give them all the same anti-depressant, chances are it will only work for some of them.  The answer could be some type of placebo affect or it could be that brain chemistry is just more complicated than we understand right now.  Until we devise better tests, there's really no way to be sure.

That said, I think they probably are overprescribed in some cases.  I had a dr. try and give me an SSRI when I really didn't need one.  I was showing some signs of stress, including tension headaches, but I really wasn't depressed.  Within a week, some of the external stressors was gone and so were most of my tension headaches and other symptoms.  I didn't need 6months-1year of drugs.

#10 Themis

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 03:11 PM

I did the therapy thing for several months before I was finally prescribed an antidepressant (Tofranil - we hit success with the first drug tried).  Within two weeks of starting the pills, I was functioning well enough to do several things I needed to do in my life at the time.  I definitely subscribe to the brain-chemistry cause of depression.  Exercise may help with that, but talking doesn't.  At least for me.  Tofranil stopped working when I hit menopause so we switched to Effexor and I've done well on it.  I have non-clinical depression from job and finances (and yes, I am trying to find a different, higher-paying job but between my age and the economy, I'm not hopeful), and pills aren't going to help that but they help me cope with it.  For me, that's what anti-depressants do - help you cope.  Most people have to try a few to find the right one.  I was lucky both times.

The Vytorin thing I'll talk with my internist about at my next appointment.  Maybe we can go back to generic statins...
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#11 Banapis

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 06:35 PM

View PostAn Affirming Flame, on Apr 4 2008, 02:11 PM, said:

Now, why should taxpayers be on the hook for paying for these drugs, again?
If a drug has been proven not to work, I don't think anybody should be paying for them.  The FDA needs to take it out of the marketplace.  

This is irrespective of my status as a taxpayer, since my private insurer is undoubtedly paying for individuals to take the alleged ineffective medicines and passing along the cost to all its customers.

Banapis

#12 Banapis

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 06:50 PM

Regarding the discussion on "anti-depressants," I think the spotty track record of the medicines has a lot to do with the nature of depression itself.

I think the science is pretty solid that depression can result in alterations to the brain chemistry that perpetuate and/or exacerbate the depressed state.  But the initial onset of the depression didn't happen in a vacuum, it was likely the result of external factors be they:

1.) Dissatisfaction with a relationship.
2.) Dissatisfaction with a job.
3.) Physical disfigurement/problem.
4.) Some other dissatisfaction with oneself.
5.) A death of someone close.

Etc.

I think the medicines might, in fact, do a very good job at eliminating any physiological/brain chemistry basis for the depression.  However, there are still the external depressive factors that need to be dealt with.  Whether it's finding a coping mechanism for something that can't be changed such as (3) and (5) on the list above, or a lifestyle change to combat examples (1) and (2).

IMO, then, you need a two-pronged approach to successfully combat a problem like that and there's no magic pill that will make it go away unless the external cause has already been eliminated prior to taking the medicine.  To that extent, I agree with AAF that Western culture's tendency to push the "magic pill approach" often leads to ineffective/incomplete treatment.

Banapis

#13 Eclipse

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 07:04 PM

View PostThemis, on Apr 4 2008, 03:49 PM, said:

I've just had my 2nd heart stent so however great the cholesterol readings were, it doesn't seem to have prevented any plaque buildup.


Like you, I had a stent placed in my RCA over 10 years ago.
Early in 2007, my cardiologist added Zetia to my Lipitor (statin) regimen
to lower my LDL even further. In late 2007, my cardiologist called me
and told me to stop taking Zetia as he had information from 2 trials which
confirmed that although Zetia actualy does lower LDL effectively, it was also
found to PROMOTE the buildup of plaques in the coronary arteries.

He immediately discontinued the use of Zetia and Vytorin in every one of
his patients.

He then doubled my daily Lipitor dose to make up for the discontinuation
of the Zetia.

Please talk to your cardiologist about the use of Vytorin as mine took
extrodinary steps to contact every one of his patients to warn them to
stop taking Zetia or Vytorin!
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#14 BklnScott

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 08:42 PM

View PostBanapis, on Apr 6 2008, 07:35 PM, said:

View PostAn Affirming Flame, on Apr 4 2008, 02:11 PM, said:

Now, why should taxpayers be on the hook for paying for these drugs, again?
If a drug has been proven not to work, I don't think anybody should be paying for them.  The FDA needs to take it out of the marketplace.  

And, indeed, the agency would do just that.

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#15 NeuralClone

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 09:00 PM

View PostBanapis, on Apr 6 2008, 07:50 PM, said:

IMO, then, you need a two-pronged approach to successfully combat a problem like that and there's no magic pill that will make it go away unless the external cause has already been eliminated prior to taking the medicine.  To that extent, I agree with AAF that Western culture's tendency to push the "magic pill approach" often leads to ineffective/incomplete treatment.
While I think it's true that our society tends to push "magic pills" a little too often* (just look at how many "ask your doctor about FlgudziNex" ads there are), it's been my experience, both first hand and with family who have suffered with depression, that doctors will often strongly recommend that you fight it with medication (to help you cope, as Themis said) and that you go for some sort of therapy. Unfortunately, they can't force people to do either or both, and going for the magic pill is often the course of action that seems less confrontational. So I think people who are depressed will more than likely try to go after that solution first (of course that no doubt would greatly depend on the individual). I certainly did.

* I am grateful that I was prescribed the "magic pills" I'm currently on as quickly as I was because without them, I'd be in a state of constant physical pain. Unfortunately, sometimes pills are the only way to deal with certain issues because there are no other known viable treatments that have actually been proven to work. Not that depression is one of those cases.

Edited by NeuralClone, 06 April 2008 - 09:01 PM.

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#16 Banapis

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 09:05 PM

^ Well said, NC, and I think we're in complete agreement.

Banapis

#17 FlatlandDan

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 04:22 AM

A good friend of mine recently went to see his GP after a year of building up the confidence to do so for his manic depression.   The GP told him to make more friends, which is funny since he has loads of great friends and is constantly trying to find time to do his coursework because of them.

He didn't want medication, he wanted to see a specialist or a therapist.  I suspect it's going to take me another year to convince him to see a different doctor who might suggest something else.
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#18 NeuralClone

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 12:27 PM

Thanks, Banapis. :)

View PostFlatlandDan, on Apr 7 2008, 05:22 AM, said:

A good friend of mine recently went to see his GP after a year of building up the confidence to do so for his manic depression.   The GP told him to make more friends, which is funny since he has loads of great friends and is constantly trying to find time to do his coursework because of them.

He didn't want medication, he wanted to see a specialist or a therapist.  I suspect it's going to take me another year to convince him to see a different doctor who might suggest something else.
Wow. Now there's a doctor that doesn't understand how serious depression can actually be. You can have the best friends in the world that are always there to support you and still be horribly depressed. What an awful thing to say to someone, especially when they're depressed.

I really hope you're able to get him to see someone else, Dani. :(
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#19 BklnScott

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 12:33 PM

Bipolar disorder is more than just depression.  It almost always requires drug intervention.  I agree with NC: Dani's friend should seek a second opinion from a better doctor.

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#20 Raina

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 09:27 PM

I've had struggles with depression. I tried to get counselling, but the doctor referred me to a psychiatrist, who put me on medications that nearly killed me.

Needless to say, I haven't tried to get help again.

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