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Question
Posted by: Sid | 2010-07-15

Lovely Sleepy pills

How safe are most medications long-term and why has this not been studied? I have been taking the same sleeping pill for 22 years. How do I know it is safe?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Excellent question. Good research is really expensive. Before a drug company is allowed to maket a new product, the laws and regulations require them o do a lot of research, to prove that the medication is safe and effective. The standards of what is expected from them have developed over the years, so some really old drugs were subjected to less scrutiny than the newer drugs.
Once a drug is registered and marketed, there is little or no motivation or requirement to do research on long-term effects.
Occasionally when a particular problem emerges, there may be some research looking at a particular question, usually if there sems to be some risk that might lead to restriction of the drugs sales or prescription. Sadly, there are few other sources of funding for research on many important issues, so it often does not get done.
Now, ALL modern experts recommend that no sleeping medicine should be prescribed for 22 years - not because the medication itself is necessarily unsafe over time, but because the risk of a degree of dependency ( a milder form of addiction ) is higher after a few months of regular use.
Indeed, after so long on whatever med you are taking, it would be unwise and possibly unsafe to stop taking it suddenly. The situation needs to be properly assessed with you and a suitable expert like a psychiatrist, to assess whether you still need the med and if not, to make a safe plan for the slow and gradual reduction in dose until you can safely come of it.
If in the 22 years you have remained on the same dose, this is a re-assuring sign sugesting that you have not developed a significant degree of dependency on it - but still, no sudden stopping !

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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010-07-15

Excellent question. Good research is really expensive. Before a drug company is allowed to maket a new product, the laws and regulations require them o do a lot of research, to prove that the medication is safe and effective. The standards of what is expected from them have developed over the years, so some really old drugs were subjected to less scrutiny than the newer drugs.
Once a drug is registered and marketed, there is little or no motivation or requirement to do research on long-term effects.
Occasionally when a particular problem emerges, there may be some research looking at a particular question, usually if there sems to be some risk that might lead to restriction of the drugs sales or prescription. Sadly, there are few other sources of funding for research on many important issues, so it often does not get done.
Now, ALL modern experts recommend that no sleeping medicine should be prescribed for 22 years - not because the medication itself is necessarily unsafe over time, but because the risk of a degree of dependency ( a milder form of addiction ) is higher after a few months of regular use.
Indeed, after so long on whatever med you are taking, it would be unwise and possibly unsafe to stop taking it suddenly. The situation needs to be properly assessed with you and a suitable expert like a psychiatrist, to assess whether you still need the med and if not, to make a safe plan for the slow and gradual reduction in dose until you can safely come of it.
If in the 22 years you have remained on the same dose, this is a re-assuring sign sugesting that you have not developed a significant degree of dependency on it - but still, no sudden stopping !

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