Every year, more than 2 million Americans suffer from serious drug reactions. These reactions cause about 100,000 deaths per year, making prescription drugs the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Illegal drugs cause about 10,000 deaths per year. Since 2001, a recorded 490,000 people have died on U.S. soil from properly prescribed drugs while 2,996 people have died on U.S. soil from terrorism. Prescription drugs are therefore 16,400% more dangerous than terrorism.
How can it be that clinically tested FDA approved drugs that are supposed to “cure” diseases end up hurting, and in some cases, killing so many people? Apparently even under the best of circumstances such as a drug going through unbiased, stringent, long term testing, anything can happen. You may be taking another drug that interacts badly with it or perhaps a food you eat causes an unforeseen reaction. There are countless possibilities and only a fraction have been tested in a lab. Often, studies are biased, results are skewed, and drugs are put on a fast track to be approved before anyone really knows whether they are safe. You have to be diligent as once you start taking the drug, it may be too late. Make sure that you are aware of the potential side effects of the drug, read the package insert, and remember that even if it lists a side effect as rare, it can still happen to you. Many, many drugs are vastly over-prescribed and unnecessary.
One prescription drug that I recently observed had so many “liability stickers” on it that the bottle contained an extra label. For example, it read: (1) Swallow whole, (2) Do not crush, do not take with other medicines without checking with your doctor or pharmacist, (3) If you are pregnant or considering getting pregnant, you should discuss the use of this medicine with your doctor or pharmacist, (4) Do not use if you are breastfeeding. Consult your doctor or pharmacist, (5) Do not drink alcoholic beverages while taking this medication, and (6) Carry or wear medical identification stating that you are taking this medicine.
Many medications can cause other conditions unrelated to the health problems that they are prescribed to treat. A physician may prescribe yet another drug that could still produce more side effects. This syndrome is known as drug cascading. Adverse drug effects send about 4.5 million Americans to the doctor’s office or the emergency room each year.
Drug manufacturers spend billions of dollars persuading doctors to prescribe the newest, most expensive medications. However studies show that six out of seven new drugs are no more effective than the old ones and are riskier because they have not been around long enough to have an extensive safety record.
We are a country of over prescribed drugs. There is, allegedly, a pill out there to cure just about anything “that ails you.” The number of prescriptions written in 2011 was 4.02 billion. The average prescriptions per person in the U.S. is 13. Americans spent $325,700,000,000 (that’s billion!) in the U.S. in 2012 on prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical industry spends $4 billion dollars a year to market their drugs to consumers. A conservative estimate based upon a population in the United States of 320 million people, is that we are consuming 4.980 billion pills per day!
The pharmaceutical industry is one of the top advertisers on TV today. Please listen closely to the adverse effects for the medication advertised as it usually comes close to the end of the ad and ends with a statement to the effect that “you should check with your doctor to see if Lyrica (for example) is right for you.” Big pharmaceutical firms also have some of the largest legal departments. For example, a $2 billion dollar firm will have 18 lawyers or 9 lawyers for every billion dollars in revenue. This should give you an idea of where they see their biggest liability in marketing their “miracle drugs.”