Ethical Aspects of Prescription
Fenfluramine and Dexfenfluramine (Fen-Phen) were withdrawn from the USA markets after the reports had shown that these anorectic drugs caused serious side effects such as heart valve lesions.
Even before both medications were banned, many doctors had used to prescribe them to their patients under their pressure. But after the withdrawn, the use of all drugs of this group should only be permitted after a number of ethical issues are resolved.
Medical practice shows that many patients who are treated with these drugs lose weight, improve their health condition and quality of life. The questions are. How dangerous is their prescription? Should you take these medicines only after you have compared all possible risks and benefits? What are the indications and principles for anorectic drugs’ prescription?
Even though the number of patients with obesity and other related diseases is growing up, many physicians still fear prescribing anorectic medications to patients and believe that such treatment has more risks than benefits.
We should more carefully consider all the ethical aspects of obesity drug therapy to help doctors take a decision whether to prescribe Fenfluramine and Dexfenfluramine or not. One should not underestimate all the possible risks, but this story should be a lesson for everyone in order not to repeat the previous mistakes.
Anorectic drug prescription to a specific patient will always be an individual decision a physician and a patient should take. There are only two choices: to prescribe or not to prescribe.
You can find ethical justification to each of these two options. But in any case your doctor will have to bear all the responsibility. Ultimately, the decision will be defined by his professional qualities and your personal preferences.
Ethical Principles of Treatment
Medical ethics will not answer the question whether doctors should prescribe these drugs or not. But it will outline the theoretical frameworks in which you can search for the answers. Before taking decisions whether or not prescribe anorectics drugs, one should consider the following principles:
- the benefits to patient,
– harmlessness of the drug,
– patient independence,
– patient agreement,
– physician’s professional ethics.
Benefits to Patients
Some doctors consider benefits to their patients being the main principle of drug prescription. They have a big desire to do their best to ensure that their patient feels better. In this case, the doctor takes a moral commitment to the treatment if he believes that it will really help his patient. And by answering the question whether his patient will get positive effects after taking anorectic drugs like Phentermine, the doctor still risks either to overestimate or underestimate the potential benefits.
The flip side of the previous approach of the “harmlessness” is going back to Hippocrates oath, “First, do no harm.” In this case, the physician should ask himself what the real risks of treatment are.
Once again, we should emphasize that it is highly important to every physician neither to overestimate nor underestimate the degree of possible treatment risks. This principle states the doctor’s role is his ability to weigh the risks of drug use, compare them with the potential benefits to a particular patient and take a decision based on what is best to human health. There are three main sources that can help to estimate all the possible risks and benefits of this or that treatment. They are doctor’s personal opinion, his professional experience and the most reliable literature he can trust.