The U.S. Has Become a Drug Nation
In 2011, doctors wrote 4.02 billion prescriptions in America, according to a Medical News Today article.
So why are so many people taking so many drugs? The new study, just published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, concludes more drugs are prescribed because the threshold for what constitutes an “illness” keeps getting lower and lower, thanks in large part to Big Pharma’s influence. For example, what was once normal blood pressure is now too high or, if approaching high, is called “pre-hypertension” and Big Pharma recommends treatment. And instead of telling someone with high blood sugar to lose weight and exercise and eventually they could improve or normalize their condition, it’s likely a doctor will emphasize that a person found to have type 2 diabetes will need to rely on medication for life.
Dr. Hunt points out in her study that physicians are caught up in an “auditing and reward system.” That means doctors are rewarded by drug companies for prescribing more and more drugs. Perhaps most disturbing is what Hunt calls a “prescribing cascade.” Simply put, drugs are prescribed to help relieve side effects caused by other drugs. Then still more drugs can be prescribed to relieve any new side-effects from the recently prescribed drugs.
So these same drugs that are supposed to keep us healthy, often increase our risks of developing other diseases, which require more drugs, and come with their own side effects. It’s an ugly, cycle.
On January 8th, 2001, the LA Times published an article by one of the best medical reporters in the business, Linda Marsa: “When Good Drugs Do Harm.” Marsa quoted researcher Dr. David Bates, who indicated that, in the US, there are 36 million serious adverse reactions to medical drugs per year.
This same article claims that over 106,000 lives per year are lost due to adverse health effects.
It’s also quite a wake-up call for those who didn’t alread know it to see that doctors are rewarded for prescribing new drugs!
There are situations that absolutely require drugs especially for acute diseases like kidney infections or heart attacks. But for chronic conditions, we owe it to ourselves to look for alternate ways of becoming healthier through exercise, and dietary changes.
God help us to discern when to medicate and when not to medicate.