Opened my mailbox today (the real metal kind of mailbox at the end of the driveway) and found an interesting article in the most recent edition of the AMA News. “Trials of Treating the Elderly” offers a nice introduction to the risks new drugs pose to older patients.
The Money Quote:
“Older participants are not usually recruited for clinical trials, leaving the path to proven treatments littered with uncertainty.”
New drugs are tested on sample populations that consist– mostly– of younger people. So when the drug is approved and comes to market (and the advertisements hit the airwaves) the older people who are the first to use that new drug are, in a frighteningly real way, to much larger risks with much less information than younger patients.
When it comes to prescription drugs newer is not always better. The “seven-year rule” suggests that (except in extraordinary circumstances) older patients should avoid medications that have been on the market for less than seven years.