More and more consumers today are turning to prescription drugs as a solution to a wide variety of illnesses. They can be used to treat common colds, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and can also be used in chemotherapy and radiation or major surgeries. While more Americans are taking prescription drugs than those who are not, many don’t understand the life cycle that a drug goes through before it’s made available to the public. Many might even ask why they would need to know or understand this.
When a drug is being formulated and prepared for the public, it goes through several clinical trials. These trials take smaller groups of people, usually with characteristics that are similar to each other and to the type of person that would actually end up using the drug once it is approved. The drug must pass through all the trials to test the safety and the efficacy of the drug, and also present the side effects experienced by this small group of people to the FDA for approval. The FDA then looks at the data and determines if the benefits that drug can provide outweigh the possible risks of taking it. If they decide that they do, then the drug is manufactured and prepared for market.
So, why is this important information? It’s important because drugs and drug tests are fallible. People typically assume that because a doctor prescribed a medication to you that it must be safe. That if a large pharmaceutical company is making selling this drug to thousands – or even millions – of people that the drug is safe. But remember that these drugs were only tested on small groups of people with similar characteristics. Quite often, as a drug is released to the public and used by a larger number of people and by a more diverse populations, other unforeseen risks and side effects can surface.
This is where you as the consumer become important. Post-market side effect tracking helps these companies gain a better understanding of the potential side effects that are experienced on those that use the medication. In fact, this feedback from patients is the ONLY way the FDA, drug companies and healthcare providers, as well as other patients like you will learn of additional side effects occurring in the population. These drug side effects have to be reported back to the FDA so that they are aware and take proper measures in inform the public of these occurrences.
In order to help patients help each other and themselves, it is a good idea to use an app for drug tracking to monitor the side effects drugs are having on you. When you use an app like this, the reports you create are recorded in an FDA data base that is reviewed and compared to other patient reports. If there are multiple reports of the same product by different people, this can indicate there is a problem with a drug to the FDA. These reports are also available to the public, so you as a patient can read what other people are experiencing before you decide to start a medication.