Drug Labels List an Average 70 Side Effects

Pharmaceutical companies trying to protect themselves from litigation
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2011 2:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – Take a gander at your typical prescription drug label, and you’ll see a lot more side effects than even the fastest talker could rattle off at the end of a commercial. The average label warns of a staggering 70 side effects, according to a new study that reviewed 5,600 such labels. But that’s mostly because drug makers want to protect themselves from every possible lawsuit, rather than because of real dangers, researchers tell Live Science.

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Still, “overwarning” comes with, well, side effects. “Having all these labeled side effects can overwhelm doctors who must weigh the risks and benefits when prescribing medication,” says one researcher says. Though the FDA has tried to discourage bloated labels, “Information overload is the rule rather than the exception.” Most widely-prescribed drugs are covered in close to 100 warnings, with the most egregious drugs the study looked at sporting as many as 525. (Read more side effects stories.)

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