This from 1998:

"Study confirms how dangerous prescription drugs are:
side effects make 2 million sick
Properly prescribed medicine kills 106,000 each year

Drugs that cause worst reactions: heart medications. blood thinners and chemotherapeutic agents for cancer. Most common cause of death: liver or kidney failure, heart rhythm problems and bone marrow destruction.

More than 2 million Americans become seriously ill every year because of toxic reactions to correctly prescribed medicines taken properly and 106,000 die from those reactions, a new study concludes. That surprisingly high number makes drug side effects at least the sixth and perhaps even the fourth, most common cause of death in this country. The analysis, the largest and most complete of its kind, suggests that one in 15 hospital patients in the United States can expect a serious reaction to prescription or over-the-counter medicine and about 5 percent of those will die from it.

If the findings are accurate, then the number of people dying each year from drug side effects may be exceeded only by the numbers of people dying from heart disease, cancer and stroke and may be greater than the number dying from lung disease, pneumonia or diabetes. Experts said the study, which appears in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, is stronger than previous ones because it looks only at cases in which drugs were taken correctly. Previous hints of similarly high side effect rates had been attributed in large part to people getting the wrong medicines or taking them in the wrong doses.

Only one quarter of the reactions were due to patients being allergic to the drug in question. In theory, those reactions could be avoided by more carefully asking patients about known allergies. The rest of the side effects were classified as essentially inevitable, bound to affect a certain percentage of the population for unknown reasons.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers, drug regulators and the researchers themselves warned against over-reacting to the numbers, noting that the study made no effort to measure the benefits of the same medicines - an equally important part of the cost-benefit calculation that determines the usefulness of a drug."

Can you imagine the comfort a dying patient would feel, from the knowledge that someone thinks others have benefited from the same drug?

Let's face the facts. When profit is the motive, common sense, science, reason, safety, ethics and decency tend to take flight.

The NHS, which can hardly keep its head above the financial surface, partly because of spiralling drug costs, currently appears to be hell-bent on putting homeopathy behind it, once and for all. Never mind reason. Never mind logic. If the punter doesn't fight for the freedom of choice, it could be flushed down the toilet of vested interest. Homeopathy would then be the prerogative of those who can afford private treatment.