As Dr. Conrad Murray’s trial continues, the issue of the safety of prescription drugs, specifically hypnotics, have been brought to the forefront. Dr. Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter for administering a lethal dose of Propofol to his patient, singer Michael Jackson. (Article in the Scientific American about how Propofol could have killed Michael Jackson here). All drugs (and non drugs alike) unquestionably become dangerous when abused, but take for instance, Lunesta, a prescription sleep aid whose commercials have been hounding the airwaves and whose side effects during proper use are sinister: “They have found that people have been known to get out of bed and drive cars, cook food, had sex, made phone calls, and been involved in other activities. After they woke up these people were usually unable to remember what they had done.”
The FDA approves these drugs because they pass the specific requirements of the drug regulatory system; doctors such as Conrad Murray prescribe these drugs because they supposedly help their patients with their ailments. Still, we can use Dr. Murphy as an example of what happens when money becomes an active factor in health, healing, and medicine: did Dr. Murray neglect his hypocratic oath and sedate Michael Jackson to death with a general anesthetic– meant to be administered in a hospital setting– to maintain his $150,000 a month salary? In the same vein, do pharmaceutical drugs put consumers at risk of potentially fatal side effects for the sake of a multi-billion dollar a year business?