There's a risk you may face next time you step into an MRI machine… and I bet that no one's ever told you about it.
It's not the machines that are faulty, however. It's the system we use to approve and market drugs.
It turns out that a number of medicinal patches, which fit on the skin almost like a band- aid and can deliver everything from nicotine to painkillers, contain trace amounts of metals. And Big Pharma doesn't always bother putting that vital bit of info on the label, so you'd never know.
Metals are a no-no inside MRI tubes, and patients are always advised to remove all metal objects before sliding in.
But how could you even guess that there's metal in these patches without a warning of some kind?
Yet, according to recent news reports, a quarter of the roughly 60 drug patches on the market contain enough metal to cause a painful burn if you've left one on during your MRI.
And here's what drives me crazy… How come it took people getting burned before we understood the potential problem here? Many of these patches are for pain conditions – and people with chronic pain commonly undergo MRI examinations. It's amazing that we could approve patches without even considering how they might interact with medical devices, such as MRI machines, that they were bound to come into contact with.
The FDA says it is working to get the warnings on all the drugs that need them. They're even considering a move to print the warning on the patches themselves.
They say that in some cases, the metals were added to the patch after the package labels were written and approved. But in other cases, the FDA admits it simply dropped the ball, and failed to ensure the warning was there in the first place.
And why would such a "mistake" happen? Because of the pressure from Big Pharma to get their patches approved and onto the arms, legs, bellies and bottoms of people all over the nation as quickly as possible.
For too long, the FDA has been a willing accomplice in cases like this, which means these drugs are approved before we know critical information could have a dramatic affect on your overall health and safety.
In this case, we're lucky. The burns are unpleasant, to be sure, and have been compared to a bad case of sunburn. But there have been no serious injuries or illnesses reported.
But what about the next time? Will we be so lucky then?