I’m binge-watching old “ER” episodes. I loved that show. Some episodes hit home more than others. One episode showcased two African American doctors who were pulled over because they resembled the descriptions of two multiple shooting suspects, though their car didn’t match the getaway car. One officer shoved one doctor to the ground and “restrained” him by putting his foot on the doctor’s neck and head. This episode . . . from the mid- ‘90s . . . sent chills down my spine.
Another episode centered around a young kidney transplant patient who also had seizures. Her regular doctor put her on a new anti-seizure drug known to cause kidney problems. It worked great on the seizures, but the transplanted kidney wasn’t working properly anymore. One of the ER doctors suspected the new medication and conducted an online search to see if there were similar cases. He found three but suspected more.
When he confronted the doctor who had prescribed the new med, he found out that this doctor knew it had the potential to ruin the new kidney but went ahead and prescribed it because it was so great on seizures. Yes, it had helped get rid of her seizures, but it also ruined the new kidney.
Discontinued meds, some of which I’ve taken, were mentioned in the show. One big one was Vioxx. I was on Vioxx many years ago, but the FDA pulled it from the market after learning it caused serious strokes and heart attacks. I know the FDA did the right thing by pulling it, but for me, it was a wonder drug that fought the debilitating pain caused by my lupus and arthritis.
Cases like these make me wary of what is happening today with possible treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. There is a rush to get the vaccine and meds on the market, but there is no way of knowing long-term effects of these treatments.
It seems like meds that help treat one symptom are catalysts for other problems. For instance, I had to stop taking one osteoporosis drug because studies showed long-term use was connected to a high risk of cancer. Another arthritis med gave me a massive stomach ulcer that will never completely heal. Other meds I have either tried or considered also have the potential to cause cancer or serious harm to organs and other parts of my body.
It’s all about making informed decisions and what you are willing to risk to find relief. I’ll get into this more in the next few columns.
Have you been faced with deciding between a drug known to help one issue but also known to have the potential to cause other issues?
#medicines #lupusmeds #arthritismeds #ER