All prescription drugs created have some sort of side effects associated with it. The human body is a complex set of systems that are integrated together and controlled by your organs. Whenever your body becomes ill or is damaged, it requires repair just like a car would. Prescription drugs are the best way for the body to heal itself using only what it needs.
Pharmaceutical drugs were designed as a delivery method for drugs at a specific body function. The most common forms of prescription drugs are tablets or also known as pills. If we take the structure of a tablet for example, each one has an active ingredient (drug) which is surrounded by excipients (fillers, sugars, binders, flavours, etc) which are absorbed by the body. The key here is to figure out where you want the drug to be absorbed into the blood stream and how fast. There are three main places for absorption: colon, small intestine and stomach. Once you figure out where you want it absorbed, then you design the drug based on that area.
Side effects come in when you introduce the active ingredient to fight one illness and it reacts with other parts of the body. Your liver and kidneys are the two organs that are most watched when developing drugs since they are the most important. Although all organs are important, kidneys and liver fill an important function in regulating your body.
Prior to any prescription drug coming to the market, there is intense testing performed on the drug to prevent human loss of life. In a brief overview, the first step is animal testing after a compound (active ingredient) is discovered. Depending on where in the body the drug is wanted to be used, animals such as mice and pigs are sacrificed to determine how poisonous it is to humans.
The next step is phase one clinical trials on a small portion of humans. From this trial side effects are documented and observed and doctors determine if the drug is worth continuing down the pipeline. It is also determined how much of the drug can be tolerated by the human body before it is considered toxic. Drugs at this point are fine tuned if they continue or stopped if the side effects are too harmful. If the drug continues, two larger studies (phase 2 and 3) are performed to check it’s effectiveness and the most common side effects are confirmed along with any new ones. Finally, comes the approval by the FDA for the market. This is a brief overview.
Minimizing Prescription Drug Side Effects
The best attempts are made to limit side effects but drugs are developed in laboratories under tight conditions. There is no way to test on humans in real time during drug discovery (before clinical trials). Most of the development is theory and hunches. What theoretically might work in strengthening a heart valve might cause liver damage or weaken your kidneys. Since the human body is all intermingled, actual side effects are not discovered until human testing. Technology such as mapping of the human genome as well as computer models, help determine which drugs will work based on genetic markers. Each person is similar in every way except in the genetic code. By this I mean, we all have hearts, livers, blood, etc, but the genetic make-up of our cells are different.
So picture this: Imagine a drug developed in the 1960s that never made it to market because during clinical trials 1 in every 100 patients died but those that lived were cured of hepatitis. The drug never made it to market because of the high death toll on humans and was scrapped. Today, that same drug is developed further along and created specifically to certain genetic types. Side effects are reduced; no loss of human life and another drug is created to make our lives better.
Are you taking any medication that was once deemed harmful to humans?