CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Deadly drug reactions cited in UK

The BBC World News reported that nearly 3,000 people have died in the past three years after suffering serious side-effects or allergies to their medicines, according to government statistics. This includes damage caused by "over the counter" drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. The BBC called this "a dangerously escalating problem, which is putting lives at risk and placing a big cost burden on the NHS." The figures reportedly come from the:

"yellow card" scheme, run by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) to gather reports of all adverse reactions from both clinicians and patients.

Last year, there were reports of 964 patients in the UK who died as a result of an adverse reaction, compared with more than 1,000 the previous year, and 861 in 2004.

However, there is evidence that the vast majority of adverse drug reactions are never reported to the MHRA. A study published last year suggested that 6.5% of all patients admitted to hospital had experienced a reaction, and that in four out of five cases, the medicines they were taking were to blame.
Many common drugs were said to be responsible for the damage:
While many of the cases involve drugs commonly prescribed by GPs and in hospitals, such as the blood-thinning drug warfarin and diuretics, a list of common culprits includes some which can be bought without prescription in any high street chemist.

These include aspirin, and the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen, both of which can cause gastric bleeding if taken in high doses over longer periods.
No recommendation was made or prospective solution offered; at this point, there is only a stated political commitment to a "full investigation."
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The Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on holistic, alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies. The law firm represents medical doctors, allied health professionals (from psychologists to nurses and dentists) and other clinicians (from chiropractors to naturopathic physicians, massage therapists, and acupuncturists), entrepreneurs, hospitals, and educational organizations, health care institutions, and individuals and corporations.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of a nonprofit organization exploring legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, homeopathy, massage therapy, energy healing, and herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. Michael H. Cohen is author of books on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy dealing with complementary, alternative and integrative medicine, including Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion, Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).
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Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has been admitted to the Bar of California, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington D.C. In addition to qualifying as a U.S. attorney, he has been admitted and to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing). For more information regarding the law practice of attorney Michael H. Cohen, see the FAQs for the Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen. Thank you for visiting the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog.
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