Medical Marijuana: Safer than Prescription and OTC Drugs
With the recent death of Michael Jackson, and last year’s death of Heath Ledger, both due to prescription drugs, more and more patients are examining their pill bottles and wondering what their future holds. Physicians are so quick to write prescriptions for anti-depressants, painkillers, sleeping pills and tranquilizers. Do we really need these toxic chemicals in our bodies? And what happens if we combine medications like sleeping pills and painkillers? Are we playing Russian roulette with pills?
The most commonly used painkiller in the US is acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol). This is easily available over the counter. Acetaminophen is also in sleep aids (for instance, Tylenol-PM), and in strong prescription narcotic painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet. Recent studies have found that acetaminophen is the leading cause of liver damage and probably is responsible for 1600 cases of acute liver failure that occur each year. The drug is thought to be safe at the recommended dose but because it is in so many different kinds of medication, people often end up taking double or even triple doses if they are using different painkillers or sleep aids. An FDA advisory panel urged the FDA to ban Percocet and Vicodin and other prescription drugs that contain acetaminophen. Due to the amount of money made by pharmaceutical companies by the sales of narcotic medications, and the fact they spend about $150 million per year lobbying our government officials, it will be a long time before any real changes take place.
In 1998, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that stated that prescription medications were the fourth leading cause of death in America. Another study reported that there were 106,000 deaths per year from non-error, adverse effects of medications. And are you ready for the really scary part of this (as if that was not enough) – 2.2 million Americans per year are injured significantly by prescribed medications ending up with serious reactions and even with permanent disability. Not from accidental or intentional overdose, just from taking the prescribed dose.
Here is another scary fact: more than half of the experts hired to advise our government on the safety and efficacy of prescription medications have a financial interest or relationship with the pharmaceutical companies that will benefit by their decisions. Can you guess what advice they will give when they own stock in a “wonder drug” that may have problems or require more testing before it is released?
Here is some information from an article by Peter Breggin in Psychology Today in July 1994 (hope you are sitting down because this is almost unbelievable):
“Contrary to widespread public belief, the FDA does not conduct any of the studies used for drug approval; they are financed, constructed, and supervised by drug companies using doctors they hire. While it may take a decade for a drug to get through the FDA bureaucracy, the actual controlled scientific studies last–as in the case of Prozac–just four to six weeks. Anecdotal material is collected on longer-term patients, but for Prozac, only 63 patients were followed for more than two years before the drug’s approval.
For starters, seriously suicidal patients and hospitalized patients were excluded. Of the included patients, many were allowed to take sedatives and minor tranquilizers to overcome Prozac’s stimulant-like side effects, vastly compromising data interpretation.
After weeding out the most badly flawed studies, the FDA found only four that were adequate enough to consider. One of these showed that Prozac was no better than placebo. Three others supposedly showed Prozac to be somewhat superior to the sugar pill, but not as good as older antidepressants. However, due to adverse drug effects and lack of drug effectiveness, the dropout rates in most of these studies was very high.
While the gross number of patients receiving Prozac in all the trials was more than 5,000, the actual number finishing the trials used for approval was very small. When I counted the actual number of patients who completed the four- to six-week trials used for the approval of Prozac, it turned out to be a grand total of 286. It bears restating–only 286 patients finished the four- to six-week trials used to determine Prozac’s efficacy.
Because of the high dropout rates and because Prozac was often no better than placebo in many trials, many statistical maneuvers were required to make the studies look positive. In one of the key studies, involving six different sites around the country, results at five sites showed Prozac to have no benefit. One site–representing 25 percent of the patients who finished the trials–was discarded. Then the data from the remaining sites were pooled. This is such a scientifically unacceptable practice that the FDA prohibits drug companies from doing it in the studies used to support advertising claims. Yet the FDA allowed it in this case. Otherwise Prozac could not have been approved.”
Scary stuff. Still Prozac and other anti-depressants are prescribed like crazy, the pharmaceutical companies are rich, and people suffer.
Does your doctor take the time to explain all of the side effects of newly prescribed medication? Most doctors these days don’t have the time to explain anything much less the lengthy list of toxic effects of medication. Remember too that most M.D.s have no training or experience in any alternative medical treatments and are reluctant to even discuss them with patients. So you get a prescription for what ails you and off you go.
If you take any medications, you should research all of the side effects and think about the potential harm that can be done to you. Think about why you take the medication and think about alternative choices. Think about how the pharmaceutical companies make 11 billion dollars per year at the expense of Americans. Think about using medical marijuana if you are on painkillers, anti-depressants, anxiety medications, or sleeping pills.
Marijuana as medicine has been around for more than 5000 years and is considered to have an excellent safety record. Between 1979 and 1998, there were 23 reported deaths due to marijuana seed related products, and when you look at the 23 people, they were all suffering from life-threatening illnesses (cancer, diabetes, etc) and were using marijuana medically. It is likely that they did not die from cannabis but from their illnesses. (Even if they died from cannabis, that is 23 deaths over 19 years, compared to more than 100,000 deaths per year from prescription medications!)
Properly grown medical marijuana is natural medication, not synthetic. There is no organ damage and if taken with a vaporizer, eaten or used sublingually (under the tongue), there is no lung damage. It helps with so many conditions that patients who were taking multiple medications have been able to reduce the doses or eliminate the medications completely by using medical cannabis. Be smart and do your own research. Decide if you want to be one of the unfortunate statistics for 2009.