In medicine, a side effect is an effect, whether therapeutic or adverse, that is secondary to the one intended; although the term is predominantly employed to describe adverse effects, it can also apply to beneficial, but unintended, consequences of the use of a drug.
Occasionally, drugs are prescribed or procedures performed specifically for their side effects; in that case, said side effect ceases to be a side effect, and is now an intended effect. For instance, X-rays were historically (and are currently) used as an imaging technique; the discovery of their oncolytic capability led to their employ in radiotherapy (ablation of malignant tumours).
Use of drugs for unapproved indications—that is, for their side effects—is termed off-label use. For instance, opioids, which are approved as palliative treatment for pain, may also be used for their euphoriant properties as anxiolytics or antidepressants, whether medically or recreationally.
Off-label use of drugs, although similar in meaning to side effects, is not to be confused with them; side effects describe the mechanism of action that a drug used off-label takes, whereas off-label use implies the desired consequences of using a drug for its side-effects.
Off-label use of drugs is legal; the manner in which prescription medication is to be used is solely at the discretion of the prescriber. However, the marketing of drugs towards unapproved indications is illegal; in fact, several pharmaceutical development firms have been fined for unapproved promotion of their products.
Examples of therapeutic side-effects
- Bevacizumab (Avastin) has been used against dry age-related macular degeneration, as well as macular edema from diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and central retinal vein occlusion.
- Buprenorphine has been shown experimentally (1982–1995) to be effective against severe, refractory depression.
- Bupropion, an anti-depressant sold as Wellbutrin, is also used as a smoking cessation aid; this indication was later approved, and the name of the smoking cessation product is Zyban. In Ontario, Canada, smoking cessation drugs are not covered by provincial drug plans; elsewhere, Zyban is priced higher than Wellbutrin, despite being the same drug. Therefore, some physicians prescribe Wellbutrin for both indications.
- Sildenafil was originally intended for pulmonary hypertension; subsequently, it was discovered that it also produces erections, for which it was later marketed.
- Carbamazepine is an approved treatment for manic depression and convulsions, but has side effects useful in treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, phantom limb syndrome, paroxysmal extreme pain disorder, neuromyotonia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Dexamethasone and Betamethasone in premature labor, to enhance pulmonary maturation of the fetus.
- Doxepin has been used to treat Angiodema and severe allergic reactions due to its strong antihistamine properties.
- Gabapentin, approved for treatment of seizures and postherpetic neuralgia in adults, has side-effects which are useful in treating bipolar disorder, essential tremor, hot flashes, migraine prophylaxis, neuropathic pain syndromes, phantom limb syndrome, and restless leg syndrome.
- Magnesium sulfate in obstetrics for premature labor and preeclampsia.
- Methotrexate (MTX), approved for the treatment of choriocarcinoma, is frequently used for the medical treatment of an unruptured ectopic pregnancy.
- The SSRI medication sertraline is approved as an anti-depressant, but delays conjugal climax in men, and thus may be supplied to those in which climax is premature.
Affects one in three adults
Affecting about 35 percent of all adults in the United States according to the CDC, metabolic syndrome contributes to weight gain, by causing a state of internal starvation called metabolic starvation. This in turn leads to increases hunger, sugar cravings and increased portions leading to overeating and weight gain.
Cause and effect misunderstood
Since we traditionally thought that the portion control (which in turn was attributed wrongly to poor will power)is the cause of weight gain, rather than the effect of this metabolic starvation, all our traditional ideas about cause and effect of obesity were not only wrong but lead to the “blame the victim” attitude when it comes to obesity.
Secret of weight gain revealed
Secret of weight gain, and metabolic syndrome revealed - it has been recently proven that metabolic syndrome, and the weight gain itself are caused by a process called insulin resistance. Check your metabolic syndrome risk using the free Metabolic syndrome meter. Watch this amazing Ted Med video that reveals the secret of weight loss - Stop blaming the victim for obesity
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