As scientists we all know that making decisions on single data points is just so wrong. When it comes to the pharmaceutical industry then we are all conscious of the interplay of the nature of clinical testing, the use of statistics to “clarify” a drug’s performance and risks, the power of marketing to deliver that drug to the marketplace and how long term testing of the drug in the marketplace can deliver those “oops!” moments and result in withdrawals from the market. I am not going to name ANY drugs in regards to my comments above…you can make up your own favored set of oops-pharmaceuticals and favorite ads…
That said, when the quality of life of a family member or friend is so dramatically impacted in a positive sense by a drug it is worth celebrating. When life suddenly becomes worth living again and the gray pallor of daily struggle is replaced by a smile and red rosy cheeks then it should be acknowledged. With that may come the worry of long term side effects and downsides but for some the here and now is simply more important.
I am SURROUNDED by people with stomach conditions with labels such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis and so on. And, based on what a doctor has said, there all labels for similar conditions and the reality is the number of people with such conditions are increasing and while there are treatments it’s very complex to diagnose and treat. Many people don’t even know they have one of these conditions and put it down to upset stomach, gas or related general upset. Based on my experience the estimates of 4 million worldwide suffering such conditions is very low.
One of my friends has been in that gray pallor mode of life for a long time. >10 bowel movements per day (imagine the pain!), general distress on a daily basis and an inability to function in public life because of the need to be near to a public toilet. With multiple drugs prescribed over the years and being scoped through most orifices giving up on medicines was an option. And then he took Humira (adalimubab). Originally marketed for arthritis this drug is now showing good results in Crohn’s disease patients and, in the case of my friend, ulcerative colitis (but remember they are all mixed together!) There are potential serious side effects listed but this is a call to anyone out there with friends or family with one of the potential disorders listed above. If they are losing hope and are willing to challenge their doctors to try new medications suggest that the doctor review the potential of Humira. It put a smile on the face of my friend in less than a week and gave him back quality of life. We’ll see what happens long term. (I’d like to point you to a chemical structure of Humira on ChemSpider but it is NOT a small molecule. You can find details on Drugbank though.)