Is it true that most medicines don’t work for most peo­ple?

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Q & A - RM

Many of us find that medicines like painkillers don’t seem to work for us. Even when they do, it’s tempt­ing to won­der if the ail­ment just went away by it­self.

Over the years, thou­sands of clin­i­cal tri­als have been car­ried out to gauge the ef­fec­tive­ness of drugs. But in 2003, a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany Glax­oSmithK­line made head­lines by ad­mit­ting that more than 90 per cent of drugs only work in 30 to 50 per cent of peo­ple. In re­al­ity, the sit­u­a­tion is even more per­plex­ing, as clin­i­cal tri­als can’t re­veal if just some peo­ple get all the ben­e­fit, or if ev­ery­one ben­e­fits but only some of the time. Some be­lieve bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the ge­net­ics of pa­tients will lead to ‘per­son­alised medicine’, but so far this has only helped with a hand­ful of drugs.

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