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News Link • Drugs and Medications

French doctors: Half of all prescribed medicines are ‘useless or dangerous’

•, By Kim Willsher
 They blame the powerful pharmaceutical companies for keeping these drugs on sale at huge expense to the health system and the taxpayer.

Professor Philippe Even, director of the prestigious Necker Institute, and Bernard Debré, a doctor and member of parliament, say removing what they describe as superfluous and hazardous drugs from the list of those paid for by the French health service would save up to €10bn (£8bn) a year. It would also prevent up to 20,000 deaths linked to the medication and reduce hospital admissions by up to 100,000, they claim.

In their 900-page book The Guide to the 4,000 Useful, Useless or Dangerous Medicines, Even and Debré examined the effectiveness, risks and cost of pharmaceutical drugs available in France. Among those that they alleged were “completely useless” were statins, widely taken to lower cholesterol. The blacklist of 58 drugs the doctors claimed are dangerous included anti-inflammatories and drugs prescribed for cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, osteoporosis, contraception, muscular cramps and nicotine addiction.
The Professional Federation of Medical Industrialists denounced the doctors’ views as full of “confusions and approximations”. “This book is helping to alarm those who are sick needlessly and risks leading them to stop treatments,” it saidin a statement.

Christian Lajoux, the federation’s president said: “It is dangerous and irresponsible … hundreds of their examples are neither precise nor properly documented. We must not forget that the state exercises strict controls on drugs. France has specialist agencies responsible for the health of patients and of controlling what information is given to them.”

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