Scientists Take 36 Years To Respond To Vernon Coleman's Warnings On Dangerous Drug Interactions

On 24th June 2011 the British press reported that researchers had warned doctors that mixtures of common prescription drugs could kill and might exacerbate serious health problems such as dementia. It was announced in the Daily Telegraph that the new research `shows for the first time that mixing drugs has a significant impact on a patient's chance of death'.

However, I have been warning for many years that drug interactions are dangerous and deadly. In my book The Medicine Men (first published in 1975) I wrote: `It is the problem of drug interactions which is likely to cause most controversy in the future. There are many possibilities. Metabolism of one drug may affect another. Drugs may react chemically together within the body and excretary rates may be modified with devastating results. Patent medicines and even foodstuffs may react.'

I then spent several pages of the book explaining why drug interactions were so potentially dangerous.

That was in 1975. But neither doctors nor journalists take much notice of history - especially when it is inconvenient.

The Medicine Men book was widely reviewed in the national press and widely attacked in the medical press for its attacks on the drug industry. The warnings and recommendations it contained were not well received by the authorities. It has taken the world of medicine 36 years to respond. (Although I have repeated and refined the warnings many times over the last three and a half decades. For example, in my book Coleman's Laws, published in 2006, I wrote: `When a patient is given a prescription drug there is a risk that the drug will cause a side effect. When a patient is given two drugs both can, of course, cause side effects. But there is another (usually underestimated) problem. Many drugs do not interact well. If you take two drugs then your chances of developing unpleasant or lethal side effects are far greater than the chances of developing unpleasant or lethal side effects with the two individual drugs. Taking two prescription drugs is a bit like drinking brandy and red wine. Taking three is like drinking brandy, red wine and champagne.)

It will, I fear, be at least another 36 years before doctors consider changing their prescribing habits and take real notice of the problem of drug interactions. The pharmaceutical industry (which now controls the NHS and the medical profession) doesn't want doctors changing their habits. And what the pharmaceutical industry wants it gets.

The bottom line is that (largely thanks to their ignorance and bad prescribing habits) doctors now kill far more people than cigarettes.

Sadly, that isn't going to change.

Indeed, things are going to get much, much worse before they get better.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2011