Pills, pills, pills…

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Welcome back!  We’ve been away for a while from the blog with the Labor Day holiday but we’re back with startling new information about the amount of prescription drugs Americans take.

In my opinion, prescription medicines are the most overly used consumer product available in this country.  Many times they are used for conditions that are incredibly responsive to dietary changes, exercise and supplement programs.  Examples of these conditions includes type II diabetes, high cholesterol, depression and asthma.  These also happen to be some of the biggest money makers for the drug companies.

New research points out just how drugged we are as a society.  Over the last 10 years, the percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44% to 48%, says a federal government study.  That’s right.  Almost half of the people in the United States reported taking at least one prescription drug in the last month.  Half! That means that almost 150 million people used a pharmaceutical product to deal with a health condition.

Use of two or more drugs increased from 25% to 31%, and the use of five or more drugs increased from 6% to 11%, according to the analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The numbers for people over 60 are even more frightening.  The study found that 90% of adults 60 years old or older used at least one prescription drug in the last month. More than 76% used two or more prescription drugs and 37% used five or more.

One in five children used at least one prescription drug in the last month as well.

These numbers are astounding. Big Pharma would have you believe they are helping people be healthy by having them take their drugs.  The truth is, however, someone is not truly healthy unless they aren’t taking any drugs.  These drugs are toxic and have serious side effects.  While some drugs are necessary and allow people to live longer lives, the vast majority are over prescribed and unnecessary.

Not surprisingly, spending for prescription medications has sky rocketed.  Since 1999, spending has more than doubled.    In 2008, spending in the US for medications topped $234.1 billion.  Access to health insurance increased the risk (yes, risk) of taking a prescription medication.  While I think it’s noble to try and get everyone fair access to health insurance, it is not going to make us healthier.  It will only guarantee that more people take more medication.

These numbers are disturbing but the trend is going to continue as long as people continue to insist that drugs are the only way to treat disease and people continue to disregard their responsibility for their health.

The research is clear.  One of the largest problems with our health care system is the cost.  The research is also clear that one of the largest contributors to that cost is the dangerous side effects and interactions from drugs that were taken as prescribed.  If half of all Americans are taking prescription medication from one month to the next and medications that are taken properly significantly increase health costs in this country, shouldn’t we be trying to get Americans off prescription medication?

In order to make health care more affordable we need to get people to be healthier.  That includes getting them to exercise, watch their diet and take supplements that have shown to be effective with very low (if any) side effect.  It does not include getting more people on more drugs.  To me this is not a hard concept.  The research reflects what I am saying.  It just needs to be implemented.

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Filed under Big Pharma, Public Health

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