Hay que tomar en serio la seguridad de los medicamentos

Las amenazas a la salud --reactores nucleares, armas y alimentos contaminados-- nos rodean, de manera que los gobiernos participan activamente en la limitación de esos peligros mediante normas que, en muchos casos, tienen gran éxito. Pero la situación es muy distinta en lo que se refiere a la seguridad de los medicamentos. En efecto, en el ámbito de la protección del público, la seguridad de los fármacos es el hijastro olvidado de quienes hacen las normas.

La magnitud del problema es enorme. Nada más en los Estados Unidos se calcula que cada año hasta 100,000 pacientes mueren debido a reacciones adversas a los fármacos (RAF) severas. Si eso es cierto, los fármacos serían la cuarta o quinta causa principal de muerte (dependiendo del cálculo de mortalidad que se utilice). Además, los costos directos de hospitalización anuales atribuibles a las RAF son de miles de millones de dólares, y eso no incluye el sufrimiento que causan las RAF y que no conducen a una hospitalización (o a la muerte).

Se deben reconocer las dificultades para determinar causa y efecto. Es difícil saber si la muerte u hospitalización de un paciente se debe a un fármaco en particular, a la enfermedad subyacente o a una combinación de ambos. Pero eso hace que la seguridad de los fármacos sea todavía más importante.

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