Another billion dollar reason to question the safety of prescription drugs. The Washington Post reports about deadly anemia drugs.

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The statistics about the safety of many of the drugs regularly recommended by your doctor, courtesy of your drug rep can be quite scary. While many older drugs that often are off-patent, and available as generic have been proven relatively safe, big pharma is constantly working on the next blockbuster drug, often with deadly consequences. Most of the drugs that are more harmful end their life in the testing stages, while others, with money, influence and lobbying get approved and combined with television, drug reps and magazine advertising achieve blockbuster status. Many of these are helpful, however, the unsafe ones kill or harm, and create employment for attorneys via lawsuits, often years later after the damage has been discovered. The public should be asking who to trust. Unfortunately in today's society, ethics in healthcare for many in the system are a second thought when the primary goal is a winning business model. Check out this article.

Anemia drug made billions, but at what cost?

By Peter Whoriskey, Thursday, July 19, 9:02 PMThe Washington Post
On the day Jim Lenox got his last injection, the frail 54-year-old cancer patient was waiting to be discharged from the Baltimore Washington Medical Center. He'd put his black leather coat on. Then a nurse said he needed another dose of anemia drugs.His wife, Sherry, thought that seemed odd, because his blood readings had been close to normal, but Lenox trusted the doctors. After the nurse pumped the drug into his left shoulder, the former repairman for Washington Gas said he felt good enough to play basketball.
The shots, which his cancer clinic had been billing at $2,500 a pop, were expensive. Hours later, Lenox was dead. For years, a trio of anemia drugs known as Epogen, Procrit and Aranesp ranked among the best-selling prescription drugs in the United States, generating more than $8 billion a year for two companies, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson. Even compared with other pharmaceutical successes, they were superstars. For several years, Epogen ranked as the single costliest medicine under Medicare: U.S. taxpayers put up as much as $3 billion a year for the drugs. The trouble, as a growing body of research has shown, is that for about two decades the benefits of the drug — including "life satisfaction and happiness" according to the FDA-approved label — were wildly overstated, and potentially lethal side effects, such as cancer and strokes, were overlooked. read more