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Considering drugs’ unwanted effects


Doctors aim to use medicines that help patients and do no harm. Almost all medicines can cause unwanted effects and it is therefore essential to consider whether benefits outweigh the possible risks before writing any prescription. Unfortunately the data for benefits are more extensive and usually more reliable than they are for unwanted effects, and this asymmetry can easily cause bias. Many doctors are still unaware of the great need for more data about unwanted effects. How can we correct this imbalance? How should we build awareness of unwanted effects into the clinical routine? They need to be considered at various stages in the management.

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