Drug Companies Creating “Generation Pill”
An incredible number of children today are given daily doses of medications for treating a wide range of psychological issues ranging from depression to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The frightening statistic is the number of kids that are now also being put on prescription medications for health-related issues that, in the past, have usually only been reserved for adult patients. Read on as we explore why more kids today are on prescription medications that at any previous point in history.
Why So Many Drugs?
In the right application, certain drugs can help a child concentrate in school or avoid a great deal of emotional distress. However, there have been many critics to question the practice of blankly prescribing drugs when the situation was one of the many emotionally charged moments that befall most middle school-aged kids on a daily basis. Nervous to give your science fair presentation? Here’s some anti-anxiety medication.
Often described as the “over-prescribed disorder, ADHD still presents a great many cases in the US. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that:
- More than 1 in 10 kids aged 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD.
- A national parent survey from 2016 found that nearly 3 out of 4 children in the US with ADHD were receiving medication.
As early as 2002, parents were increasing their spending on pediatric medications by 85 percent from the previous five years. “This was the first time that we have noticed that the pediatric age group trend was beating all the other age groups,” wrote Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco Health’s Chief Medical Officer, in the NY Times. “What’s surprising is the type of drugs these kids are taking. All these adult drugs are popping up in children, which is really disturbing,” Epstein said.
Medco Health (a subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant, Merck) released a report detailing the rise in children’s prescription drug use in 2009. Citing that report, Reuters’ Bill Berkrot presented that as many as 1 in 4 children, and even more adolescents, take at least one prescription to treat an ongoing condition. With these trends, the pediatric market is nearly four times as strong as the adult drug market. According to Berkrot, by 2009, high blood pressure medications were being used by children 17 percent more than previously, respiratory medicines were up 42 percent, diabetes management regimens were up 150 percent, and heartburn related issues were being treated with medication 147 percent more often. Taking the cake is the 200 percent increase in girls 10 to 19 being prescribed medication for Type 2 diabetes, a disease that used to be known only as “adult-onset diabetes”. T2D is characterized by high blood sugar and an insulin resistance/lack of insulin in general and requires a lifelong commitment to properly managing the condition, including changes to diet and exercising.
Where Did these Conditions Come From?
The bottom line, doctors are treating a greater number of children and adolescents with more powerful medications than were ever previously available. Added to this, there are a variety of different societal behavioral shifts in the ways that we live, go to school, and importantly, what we eat. Children have modeled their behavior after parents that are living increasingly sedentary lives and eating diets more from convenience rather than nutrition. The CDC reports some 13.7 million children and adolescents are clinically obese. But parents do more than simply model bad behavior that encourages increased drug use in children. Many health practitioners can cite examples where parents were quick to ask for Ritalin to give their kids an advantage in the classroom.
Increased use of social media and greater connectivity has created a whole new dimension for bullying, rejection, and the general feeling of ‘not-fitting-in’ to occur. The ensuing depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders have been treated in recent years with powerful antipsychotics. Girls 10 to 19 increased their usage of these types of drugs more than 200 percent according to Medco’s report.
Negative Effects of Prolonged Usage
Studies are only beginning to measure the long-term effects of today’s youth being on a regimen of daily medications. Issues arising from the different drug’s side effects, behavioral and cognitive changes, and even how different drugs interact with one another are still being studied.
Dangerous Side Effects
Side effects of prescription drugs cover just about everything unpleasant that can befall a human being. From vomiting, mood changes, losing cognitive function, decreased respiratory function, comas, or at worst, death. Stopping certain medications cold-turkey can lead to seizures and combining them with other substances can turn some medications deadly.
David Healy, Professor of Psychiatry at Bangor University, writes in the Guardian that children on meds can experience negative effects beyond medical complications. The condition may be managed, he says, “but you are not going to learn coping skills if you are taking pills”. Children that have been taught that the problem goes away by taking a pill don’t learn some of the hard lessons needed to deal with problems later in life.
One research area that’s lacking in understanding the full ramifications of multiple drugs interacting within the bodies of children and young adults, who are at critical developmental stages physically, mentally, and emotionally. A 2018 study in the American Journal of Pediatrics found that, with children 19-years and younger, 8% of concurrent users(defined as using two or meds at one time) are facing dangerous drug-drug interactions (DDIs). The consequences of DDIs can include the decrease of the effectiveness of the different medications being taken, the increase in the number of side effects experienced, and can even result in severe reactions like the toxicity of certain drugs. For example, in some ADHD medications stimulants are used. When some stimulants are mixed with certain OTC cold medicines, intense side effects can manifest themselves such as increased body temp, irregular heartbeat, aggressiveness, and paranoia.
Drug companies are creating an entire generation of Americans that are dependent on prescription drugs. Rather than focusing on fixing root causes, doctors trying to meet demanding schedules can quickly write a script and be off. The complete ramifications of having children, teens, and even babies on prescription medications for years have yet to be fully realized.
Prescription Medications Caused My Family’s Grief, What Recourse Do I Have?
Trusting a doctor with the care of your child requires a great deal of humility. For those first few years, you get to hold your child’s arm and watch the tears well as they receive their vaccinations. Later, you deal with broken bones and flu viruses. You trust that the doctor and staff you’re visiting are giving the treatment of your child or loved one their utmost attention and care, but truth is, even for those that are treating with skill and compassion can, and do, make mistakes that cost their patients dearly.
There are many drugs on the market that, even if they have been cleared by the FDA, cause serious side effects. Our team has experience with defective drug cases. We’ll handle everything on your behalf and manage the whole process so you can focus on what’s important. Call, click, or come into any of our offices across Georgia and Florida to get a free case consultation today.