Is It a Drug Allergy or a Side Effect?

We noticed that most drug advertisements now say something like “Do not take this drug if you are allergic to it or any of its ingredients.” We wondered when this caveat started.

We have repeatedly warned about the side effects of psychiatric drugs, also called adverse reactions. Side effects are the body’s natural response to having a chemical disrupt its normal functioning. One could also say that there are no drug side effects, these adverse reactions are actually the drug’s real effects; some of these effects just happen to be unwanted.

So we were curious about how warnings of drug side effects have apparently morphed into warnings about being allergic to drugs. Was this another example of the psycho-pharmaceutical industry redefining terms to downplay the adverse reactions?

Well, what is an allergy? Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance by producing antibodies which identify the substance as harmful. The word itself comes from German allergie, from Greek allos “other” + Greek ergon “work” or “action”.

We often think of an allergic reaction as from something environmental, such as inhaling pollen, which causes the immune system to reject the substance.

The experts say that the difference between an allergy and a side effect is that an allergy generally results from the immune system rejecting the substance, and a non-allergic side effect is a predictable result from some particular chemical or biological property of the substance not involving the immune system.

We get the difference, but we still see the psycho-pharmaceutical industry starting to emphasize allergic reactions over side effects in their public relations campaigns, even though allergic reactions are rare compared to side effects, reported as less than 10% of the cases.

The implication seems to be that an allergic reaction is not the drug’s fault, it’s the body’s reaction, whereas a side effect is caused by the drug. We think the distinction is moot, but is being used to downplay drug side effects and transfer the attention and blame off the drugs.

One reference says this about it: “A drug allergy occurs when your immune system mistakenly identifies a drug as a harmful substance.” Aha, a deliberate attempt to cast drugs as non-harmful.

The literature shows discussions about the difference between allergy and side effect over many years, but it’s only recently that we’ve noticed the emphasis in advertisements on allergy instead of side effect.

There are also some genetic effects that confuse the issue. An adverse reaction can also be a reaction to drugs or toxins which cannot be metabolized due to a genetic lack of cytochrome P450 enzymes.

We also remind people that the real problem is that psychiatrists fraudulently diagnose life’s problems as an “illness”, and stigmatize unwanted behavior or study problems as “diseases” so that they can prescribe drugs. Psychiatry’s stigmatizing labels, programs and treatments are harmful junk science; their diagnoses of “mental disorders” are a hoax – unscientific, fraudulent and harmful. All psychiatric treatments, not just psychiatric drugs, are dangerous.

We do suggest that people review the potential known side effects of any prescribed drugs; this is one of the cardinal precepts of Full Informed Consent.

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