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Medications

Are Americans Over-Medicated? Experts Worried About Consumers Popping Too Many Pills

Thursday, January 08, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: medications, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) People in the United States are taking more prescription medication than ever before, leading some experts to worry that many of these drugs may be unnecessary and expose patience to dangerous side effects.

"We're taking drugs we really need and [some that] we don't, but the body doesn't know the difference when it comes to side effects," said Mark H. Beers of the University of Miami School of Medicine, editor-in-chief emeritus of Merck Manuals.

According to a recent study by Medco Health Solutions, a company that manages prescription drug benefits, more than 50 percent of people in the United States are now taking at least one drug for chronic health problem, while 20 percent are taking three or more. Another study, conducted by the nonprofit Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, found that the number of prescriptions purchased in the United States increased 71 percent between 1994 and 2005, from 2.1 billion to 3.6 billion. In contrast, the U.S. population grew by only 9 percent.

One reason for the surge in prescriptions is that people's health is actually getting worse, largely due to lifestyle diseases.

"Americans have had an increase in the incidence of obesity, which can lead to all kinds of health problems," said Dr. Lon Castle, Medco's senior director of the department of medical and analytical affairs. "They also have a penchant for going for the quick fix. They want medications to treat their problems rather than trying diet and exercise or lifestyle changes, which might also be effective."

Direct-to-consumer marketing and the drug industry's influence on doctors via gifts have also been blamed for an increased tendency to seek pharmaceutical solutions to health problems. In addition, with doctors under pressure to keep visits short, it can be tempting for them to turn to drugs as a quick fix.

Beers suggests that a review of all your prescriptions and whether they are necessary be part of your yearly health checkup.

Sources for the story include: www.forbes.com.

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