Drug safety issues are political hot-buttons
Arthritis made the headlines again and again in recent months with news about COX-2 inhibitors, the preferred medication for many with arthritis. The topic was highlighted in our December issue of Voices. While the storm of suffering from the disruptions in treatment has been real, as arthritis advocates we can look to a silver lining: The media have joined our ranks in bringing public attention to the huge numbers of people suffering from arthritis. Moreover, politicians and the public now have ample evidence that arthritis is serious -- so serious that the benefits of a particular therapy may outweigh even grave risks from taking it. The public furor turned accessibility of needed medications and the monitoring of drugs for safety into political hot-buttons. The highest levels of government have joined us in calling for public involvement in health policy.
We can hope for other positive results: Hopefully, many consumers will be motivated to learn more about their provincial and federal health care system, how drugs are approved, marketed and monitored. Hopefully they will see the need to take personal responsibility for their treatment. Hopefully, the COX-2 experience will convince them, if they were not convinced before, of the harm of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA), which creates consumer demand for drugs that are too often inappropriate for many patients.