When drug side effects scare patients away from treatment

Many patients are fearful of taking prescription drugs.

And who can blame them? Drug advertisements prominently communicate a litany of side effects, and news reports routinely proclaim black box warnings and newly discovered complications.

Within this fog of negativity, patients have to realize the benefits of many medications, and this is what the WSJ points out (via the WSJ Health Blog).

Statins are the most obvious example. There is good data supporting its use, especially in secondary prevention of cardiac events. However, many patients are wary about the side effects and stop taking them, perhaps not realizing that in some cases “the health consequences associated with stopping a medication, particularly for a chronic condition, may be far worse than the possibility of a side effect.”

Physicians are the ones who can properly weigh the risks and benefits of medications for individual patients. News reports, television, and drug advertisements have no ability to do so.