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Hooked on Prescription Drugs – Half of US Took at least One Prescription Drug in Previous Month

My comments in red. – Ilene

Hooked on Prescription Drugs – Half of US Took at least One Prescription Drug in Previous Month

Courtesy of Mish

AN ELDERLY WOMAN IS HOLDING PILL BOTTLES.PROPER MEDICATION CAN RELIEVE THE COMPLICATIONS OF AGING. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR A PERSON TAKING MORE THAN ONE MEDICATION TO HAVE A DOCTORS SUPERVISION TO AVOID SYNERGISTIC SIDE EFFECTS. ADDICTIONS CAN ALSO RESULT FROM INAPPROPRIATE MEDICATION.

Here is an interesting article on Bloomberg regarding prescription drug usage. The study is from 2008. Please consider Prescription Drug Use Rose to Include Half of Americans in 2008.

Almost half of Americans took at least one prescription drug per month in 2008, an increase of 10 percent over the past decade, a U.S. study found.

One of every five children ages 11 or younger took at least one medication each month in 2008, led by asthma and allergy treatments, according to the survey released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among those ages 60 or older, 37 percent used five or more prescriptions per month.

The most common medications for adolescents were treatments for attention-deficit disorder, a condition in which people have trouble paying attention and engage in impulsive behavior.

For adults ages 20 to 59, antidepressants, including Eli Lilly & Co.’s Cymbalta and Pfizer Inc.’s Zoloft, were the most-used drugs. In the last 10 years cymbalta withdrawal symptoms have dramatically been lowered to levels accepted by regulatory agencies. Cholesterol-lowering medications, including Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor and AstraZeneca Plc’s Crestor, were the most common drugs taken by people ages 60 and over, with 45 percent of those in that age group on such therapies.

$238 Billion Industry

Prescription drug were a $234.1 billion industry in 2008. The number is certainly higher today. Are pharmaceutical companies interested in curing anything or just treating the symptoms?

[The pharmaceutical companies are most interested in making profits, though individual scientists that work for the pharmaceutical companies are typically more ethical than the collective "corporation," aiming to both cure disease and alleviate symptoms.  Unlike some conspiracy theorists, I don't believe that bad outcomes driven by the profit motive are a result of massive plots to make money and make people so sick they need more medications.  See for example: After Avandia: Does the FDA Have a Drug Problem?]

Throughout grade and high school, I do not recall any kids with attention problems. How is it that attention-deficit disorder is now so widespread? Are kids today different? Why?

[I think there's a combination of better diagnosis, perhaps over-diagnosis, plus a real increase in kids with learning disorders and delays.] 

I do not like the way drugs are advertised. Is anyone else with me on this?

[Agree - the ads increase the numbers of patients asking doctors to give them certain drugs, pressuring doctors to do something, prescribe the drug or another one, when the best thing for the patient may be to change their life style or even do nothing.]

What's up with the "ask your doctor about the purple pill" campaign? What does the color have to do with reasons to take a pill. The most annoying thing about the ad are versions that do not even say what the drug is for, they simply stress the color purple, telling you to ask your doctor about it.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock


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  1. Well, yes, but a lot of these are fairly innocuous and really necessary. I myself take a blood pressure med at quite a low dose – have tried stopping it but that didn’t really work, so there’s something about the way my body handles salt that isn’t quite right for our current environment, living in climate-controlled boxes. My other med is actually a hormone, replacing what my thyroid gland used to do before it took early retirement (hashimoto’s disease). This I need to stay alive – without thyroid hormone people generally die within something like 5 years. Another big contributor is obesity and lack of exercise – hence the heavy use of statins but also the treatments for type 2 diabetes.
     
    That said, some meds are overused, and drug advertising – like most other advertising – is annoying and deceptive.


  2. Hi Snow, 

    I agree that some meds are necessary, and some aren’t (and some are for some but not for others, the risk/reward profile is often highly individual). High BP runs in my family, though mine is super low. However, it’s one of the things I would take medication for if I needed to.  Here’s what I wrote as a comment to Mish: 

    "Are pharmaceutical companies interested in curing anything or just treating the symptoms?"  
     
    Curing anything quickly is generally not as profitable as treating symptoms of chronic diseases, though I’m not saying no one’s interested in curing anything. It’s just that the scientists working on cures are not the same as the business people making decisions based on potential profits. Also, drugs may cause side effects which may lead to further problems, and the need for more drugs. I think the pharmaceutical companies are more concerned with profits unfortunately, but that seems to be how the industry works.  
     
    Throughout grade and high school, I do not recall any kids with attention problems. How is it that attention-deficit disorder is now so widespread? Are kids today different? Why?  
     
    I think there are multiple things going on, and not sure of the % contribution of each. One is that there are more kids with adhd, learning disorders and autism-spectrum disorders (and I believe this is likely due to environmental influences combining with genetic predispositions). I think mercury in the vaccines may have contributed, though I realize that mainstream media and the pharma companies paint this belief as being "fringe" — I don’t think so). In addition, there is also increased recognition of the milder forms of autism, which may really be on a spectrum with adhd. Also, it may be that people are quick to want to treat deviations from the "norm". This wanting to treat may also result in more people taking anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and other drugs, often all at the same time --rather than live through their sadness, anxiety, moodiness, pains, as part of life. Not every bad feeling needs to be solved with pills, and the pills may in fact do longer term damage.  
     
    I do not like the way drugs are advertised. Is anyone else with me on this?  
     
    Yes, I’ve heard from some doctors that they really don’t like these ads because patients come to them with the pill they want and put the doctor in the position of having to either give the patient the desired prescription or discuss why they don’t want to, and come up with something to satisfy the patient, who wants something quick and easy to fix their problems.