To say that America is overprescribed is an understatement. Each American has an average of 12 prescriptions, with the bulk of them being filled by those who are 65 and older. Medicare benefits about 14 percent of the population but accounts for 41 percent of prescription drugs. That’s one reason that Medicare fraud is so tempting.
Public Citizen takes a look at the Misprescribing and Overprescribing of drugs in its April 2010 Health Letter.
With all of those prescriptions being written, it finds about 21% of patients over the age of 65 are receiving at least one prescribed drug they don’t need or is doing more harm than good. With more than 1.5 million Americans hospitalized and over 100,000 dies each year from largely preventable adverse reactions to medications.
While medications can be life savers, they can also cause the disease for which the second drug is prescribed. A doctor may not recognize they are treating an adverse drug reaction such as depression, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, constipation, psychosis and many other side effects that are not a disease.
The U.S. delivery of medical advice is usually on the clock. Forget the one hour appointment where a complete medical history is taken. With this rush to see the next patient to stay profitable, doctors can miss what amounts to a lifestyle change that could mend a problem. Consider obesity, adult-onset diabetes and high blood pressure as examples.
Americans ask for and are given antibiotics, even when they are suffering from a virus. Americans ask for drugs by name because they have seen them on television, something called direct-to-consumer advertising. And often errors can occur when two drugs are given at the same time and they interact increasing the risk for patients. Older patients can have problems when they cannot metabolize or excrete drugs at the same rate as a younger patient.
The primary culprit in all of this is the pharmaceutical industry which profits by about $216 billion a year just in the U.S. alone reports Public Citizen Advertising is a key to success, as is paying doctors to be spokesmen and women for their drugs by inviting them to conferences in the guise of education. Is it arrogance that prevents them from seeing there is no such thing as a free lunch, or seven-course dinner for that matter?
When you have an aggressive pharmaceutical industry and an underfunded regulatory agency, the Food and Drug Administration, it is the drug companies that win and often the consumer who loses. FDA oversight of advertising appears to be gone while the drug approval business is vigorous.
With a hands-off attitude, the FDA approved more drugs in 1996 and 1997 than it had in any other two-year period. The most recent appointments to head the agency appear to be as appalled as we should all be at the tail wagging the dog free for all that has characterized the FDA.
While pharmacists should be the safety net for patients, Public Citizen too finds often they work for drug companies and on occasion call doctors to get them to switch to the drugs offered by the pharmacist’s employer.
All of this is to say that the best advocate for the patient is the patient himself. Thankfully with the internet, much of the research has already been done once the patient knows where to turn. A good source is www.WorstPills.org put out by the Public Citizen Health Research Group that is essentially taking over the job helping patients that should be the primary role of our public health regulators.
Contact a Jacksonville Misprescribing Drugs Lawyer at Farah & Farah
If you would like to discuss your prescription medication injuries with a Jacksonville personal injury attorney, please contact Farah & Farah at 855-797-9899.