French told to avoid 79 medicines (because they do more harm than good)

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French told to avoid 79 medicines (because they do more harm than good)
Many drugs on sale in France 'can do more harm than good'. Photo: AFP

Seventy-nine medicines currently on sale in France should be avoided as tests show that the harm they can do is greater than any health benefit they may bring, according to the latest annual report from a medical journal.


“There is no valid reason to let these medicines which are more dangerous than useful remain authorised on the market,” said an editorial in the Medical journal Prescrire which accompanied the sixth annual edition of its report.

It said the drugs on the list were more dangerous than useful and should be avoided for a number of reasons, including the risk of patients getting sicker, potentially healing better without them, or even that the drugs may offer nothing more than a placebo effect.

The report’s conclusions were based on analyses carried out between 2001 and 2017 on 90 drugs authorised in the EU, of which 79 are on sale in France.

The drugs vary in type, including some for diabetes, arthritis, allergies, nausea, cancer, or to help stop smoking or to lose weight.


Livial, a a hormone replacement therapy drug meant to help women undergoing menopause was, for example, singled out as allegedly exposing its users to cardiovascular problems and breast and ovary cancer.

Protopic, an anti-eczema drug, has “disproportionally undesirable effects” that include skin and cancer and Lymphoma, also termed lymphatic cancer, the report said.

It was scathing about drugs that claim to help users shed kilos, saying that “no medicament on sale in 2018 enables people to lose weight in a durable manner without risk.”

The report said that anti-depressants such as Valdoxan, Cymbalta, and Seropram had far more serious risks of side effects than other similar drugs on the market.

Zyban, a drug meant to help people stop smoking, should be avoided as it exposes users to neuropsychological disorders and potentially serious allergic reactions, it said.

“From the point of view of patients’ health, how can one justify exposing them (patients) to a drug that causes more undesirable effects than others?”  the reports' authors asked.

The full list of medications featured on the Prescrire list is available via this link (scroll to the bottom of the page)





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