Net: Is my mediciation safe or is Wikipedia not safe?

March 10th, 2009 by Richy B. Leave a reply »

Ok, after reading one inflammatory article today (Kate Craig-Wood’s Register edited “UK IT should ‘fire men first'” article), it’s time for my own – which I’m entitling “Is my mediciation safe or is Wikipedia not safe?” “Wikipedia: Is it safe?”

This blog entry has been inspired by the Wikipedia entry for some medication I am currently taking. It’s been prescribed to me by a UK registered GP (General Practice Doctor) on an NHS (National Health Service) prescription and was dispensed by Superdrug (the 2nd largest health and beauty and pharmacy chain in the UK – 2nd only to Boots) to treat a bacterial otitis externa (ear canal infection). As you can guess then, the medicine is widely stocked, approved by the UK’s health board and is known by general doctors.

However, the Wikipedia article for the drug Ciprofloxacin states:

…[it is an] agent used to treat severe and life threatening bacterial infections….The licensed uses for ciprofloxacin in the United States are quite limited as ciprofloxacin is to be considered a drug of last resort when all other antibiotics have failed.

(Emphasis mine)

And that’s just from the summary!

Wow: what a dangerous drug my Doctor has prescribed me: I must be at death’s door (which explains why he told me not to go into work for a week: I may keel over and die at my desk!).

The “Patients Information Leaflet” (which must be supplied with all pharmacticual drugs in the UK) doesn’t state “The patient’s serum levels should be monitored during therapy to avoid a drug overdose” (Dosing) and the leaflet states “Very rarely, they may cause muscular pains or inflammation of tendon sheaths”: despite Wikipedia stating “Some of the serious adverse effects which occur more commonly with fluoroquinolones than with other antibiotic drug classes include CNS and tendon toxicity“.

Let’s try a slightly more official source: Its entry on Ciproxin (Ciprofloxacin) states:

Ciprofloxacin is effective against a large number of bacteria, some of which tend to be resistant to other commonly used antibiotics. It is particularly useful against a sub-group of bacteria called Gram-negative bacteria, including salmonella, shigella, campylobacter, neisseria, and pseudomonas. It is used to treat a wide range of infections, including infections of the chest, urinary tract and of the gastrointestinal system. It is also used as a single dose treatment for gonorrhoea.

It also warns that the tables should be swallowed whole, avoid milk, yoghurts etc at the same time, it does state “Quinolone antibiotics may rarely cause tendon inflammation (tendinitis) and tendon rupture.…Very rare (affects less than 1 in 10,000 people) ” (my emphasis).

Let’s just see what the British NHS has to say about it. Ciprofloxacin side-effects include:

  • Between 1% and 10% of people suffer from diarrhoea or nausea
  • Between 0.1% and 1% have back pain, blood problems, chest pain, fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain, sleeping problems (I have the last three)
  • Between 0.01% and 0.1% get arthritis, blood in urine, breathing difficulties, hallucinations, liver problems (potentially fatal), hypersensitivity (potentially fatal), increased muscle tone (that’s a bad side effect?), tinnitus, vertigo and seizures
  • Less than 0.01% get: bone marrow problems, inflammation of the tendon and tendon rupture (there we are!), muscle weakness, migraine, Stevens-Johnson syndrome (potentially fatal), Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (potentially fatal) and worsening of Myasthenia Gravis (although it isn’t intended to be proscribed to MG sufferers)

Ok, you stand between an 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 10,000 chance of getting something slightly bad and less than 1:10,000 of getting the tendon issue which Wikipedia describes as “Common”!

I know Wikipedia is “community written”, but this just aids as a reminder for a few key facts:

  • Not everything you read on the Internet is true
  • Do not rely solely on community generated content such as Wikipedia as it may be misleading at best, blatently incorrect at worst
  • Do not self-medicate: rely on your Doctor or GP to prescribe the medicines and only take those that are prescribed to you – never take somebody elses!
  • Check the source: I trust the NHS more than I trust the Patient Information Leaflet, I trust the PIL more than NetDoctor, and I trust NetDoctor a lot more than “random Joe contributing to Wikipedia”
  • I’m on my death bed and there’s no more antibiotics that can be given to me!!! Donations to make my last days/weeks/months/years/decades on earth are gratefully received! 😀

This post is over 6 months old.

This means that, despite my best intentions, it may no longer be accurate.

This blog holds over 12 years of archived content - during that time, I may have changed my opinion of something, technology will have advanced (and old "best standards" may no longer be the case), my technology "know how" has improved etc etc - it would probably take me a considerable amount of time to update all the archival entries: and defeat the point of keeping them anyway.

Please take these posts for what they are: a brief look into my past, my history, my journey and "caveat emptor".

1 comment

  1. Neil T. says:

    The whole of the summary has one citation, and I noted on the talk page that the article is to be re-written to provide a more neutral point of view.

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