We Take Too Many Prescription Drugs

We take too many prescription drugs.  A study in JAMA(2015:314(17):1818-31. Nov. 3, 2015) was titled, “Trends in prescription drug use among adults in the U.S. from 1999-2012.”  The authors used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) which included 37,959 adults.  The authors found an increase in overall use of prescription drugs among US adults between 1999 and 2012.

In 1999, 51% of U.S. adults reported using any prescription drugs and 59% reporting use in 2012.  That  is a 16% increase.  The prevalence of polypharmacy (>5 prescription drugs) increased from 9.2% in 1999 to 15% in 2012—a 64% increase.  The prevalence of drug use increased in 11 drug classes included cholesterol-lowering agents, antidepressants, and prescription-proton pump inhibitors.

Comment:  There are two major reasons we are experiencing an increase in prescription drug use.  The first is direct-to-consumer advertising.  These are the drug ads we all see on television and in print.  We are only one of two countries that allow direct-to-consumer advertising.  Studies have shown that the marketing of drugs to consumers results in more prescriptions and greater profits for Big Pharma.  Direct-to-consumer advertising should be stopped.

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