by Dr. Mercola
Conventional medicine is more than a little fond of using costly, toxic drugs. Unfortunately, this “health” strategy exacts a tremendously high price, both in terms of dollars and cents and in actual health status. I’ve written a lot about the many side effects of most drug categories on the market, but one aspect that doesn’t get much publicity is the generational impact of pharmaceutical drug use.
In one of the most startling news reports yet on the overuse of opioid drugs like Oxycontin in America, a new study found that newborns suffering from withdrawal symptoms due to their mothers’ use of prescription painkillers tripled between 2000 and 2009.
An estimated 13,500 babies are now born with opioid withdrawal symptoms each year. Over the same time period the number of women using these drugs quintupled. Health-care costs to treat these drug addicted babies rose from $190 million to a whopping $720 million.
“This serves as a reminder that this is really a public health emergency,” lead author Dr. Stephen Patrick of the University of Michigan told JAMA Reportii.
The study also found that the withdrawal problems appear to affect poor children disproportionately: 78 percent of the drug-addicted babies were born to mothers on Medicaid (an indication of poverty level), compared to 46 percent born to mothers receiving no public aid.
According to Time Magazineiii:
“Prescription drug misuse has risen in tandem with a sharp increase in legitimate prescriptions for pain medication, owing to a better recognition of the high prevalence of severe chronic pain. Both trends are likely to have affected painkiller use by pregnant women, but it is difficult to say exactly how many women use the drugs legitimately and how many do so without a prescription.”
Either way, it’s interesting to note that while there was great outcry over the horrors of “crack babies” being born to mothers abusing crack-cocaine, the response to legal drug addiction in newborn babies is far more muted. Take the comment of Carl Hart, associate professor of psychology at Columbia University, for example, who is quoted in the featured Time articles as saying:
“[The research] failed to take into account that there are many women who are prescribed opioids for medical reasons and these women are following their physicians’ orders and behaving in the way that society wants them to behave. There’s no distinction made between these women and those who are using opioids illicitly.”
My question is: Does it really make a difference? Whether you’re following doctor’s “orders” and “behaving the way society wants you to behave” by dutifully taking your drugs or not, the harm inflicted is real—and it’s caused by overuse of prescription drugs.
The Rise of Polypharmacy
Another factor of our current drug use trend that is frequently ignored is the impact of polypharmacy, i.e. the use of multiple drugs. For example, people with chronic pain or depression will oftentimes take more than one drug to ease their daily suffering. This exponentially increases your risk of side effects, but many still ignore this obvious fact. This holds true for ALL drugs, of course, not just pain medications and antidepressants.
There’s no doubt that the U.S. has been purposely manipulated into becoming a “polypharmacy nation.” In just one decade, from 1992 to 2002, the number of prescriptions written increased by a whopping 61 percent, and the number of opiate prescriptions increased by almost 400 percent in that same timeframe.
It doesn’t have to be this way. My 83 year old father and 77 year old mother do not take ANY drugs. Whenever they have to go for a conventional medical visit, their providers are always shocked at this fact, as it’s in stark contrast to the vast majority of the rest of the population.
According to statistics from the Kaiser Health Foundationiv, the average American adult, aged 19 to 64, now takes more than 11 prescription drugs. So while polypharmacy used to be primarily a concern for seniors—who, on average fill more than 31 prescriptions per year—polypharmacy now applies to virtually everyone, including children and toddlers, whose drug use now averages out to four or more drugs per child!
This is a very significant problem that is not getting much attention. I’ve also heard many stories of concerned patients bringing it up with their doctors, only to be rebuffed. Still, it’s essential to understand that when you mix two or more drugs together, you exponentially increase your chances of suffering serious side effects. But just how did we get to the point where the average American is taking nearly a dozen pharmaceutical drugs daily?
Big Pharma Wants You Hooked on Drugs for Life
A major factor is the fact that the U.S. allows direct-to-consumer advertising for drugs. Most other nations do not allow pharmaceutical advertising, and their population consequently also does not consume nearly as many drugs. Advertising works—that’s a fact! There are two effective marketing strategies employed by drug companies on a regular basis, and they include:
- Convincing you that drugs you used to take only when you needed them are now everyday “prevention” necessities in the form of a prescription; and
- Selling you the idea that just being at risk for a chronic disease makes you someone who should be taking a drug for the disease.
The supreme success of these two strategies arises from the fact that YOU are the one who then demands it from your doctor. Furthermore, the treatment goal of most of the drugs advertised is to keep taking them for life. After all, if you’re at risk for a chronic disease, that risk never goes away, so you have to keep taking the drug until you die, or cannot afford it any longer.
In a recent article, Martha Rosenbergv lists six types of drugs that are “marketed for perpetuity,” meaning they’re intended to be taken for life. This type of marketing has also been profoundly effective. According to statistics, 46 percent of all Americans take five or more prescriptions chronically (as opposed to “as needed”).
Sadly most of these drugs come with potential side effects that can be far worse than your original symptom, and few of them have been definitively proven to actually provide any significant health benefits. In fact, some of these drugs have been found to worsen the very condition they’re meant to treat (such as antidepressants, statins, proton pump inhibitors, and asthma-control meds), and/or cause other serious diseases. For more information, please follow the hyperlinks provided:
|ADHD Drugs and Drugs for Pediatric Psychopathologies, such as “pediatric bipolar disorder“||Antidepressants||Statins|
|Hormone Replacement Therapy||Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)||Asthma-Control Medicines|
The Incredible Cost of Polypharmacy and Perpetual Drug Use
Four years ago, an analysis of federal data by the nonprofit Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) discovered that in the first quarter of 2008, fatalities from adverse drug reactions accounted for 23 percent of all adverse reaction reports!vi
It’s quite likely that this could be due to the exponential increase in polypharmacy. And it should serve as a wakeup call for everyone. We’re not talking about headaches and nausea anymore—we’re talking about death being reported as the side effect in nearly one out of every four cases…
Excessive drug use is also extremely expensive. First, drugs cost the US health care system nearly one trillion dollars a year. But that’s not all. We also spend tens of billions of dollars to treat the side effects of those drugs! And despite all these “magic pills,” the United States ranks 49th in the world for both male and female life expectancy, down from 24th in 1999.
From my point of view, the idea that “more and better drugs” is the answer to our nation’s failing health is clearly misguided. This is also part and parcel of the point I wanted to make in the beginning of this article, which is: Why focus on trying to determine which toxic and expensive drug to use when there are safer, in many cases completely natural, alternatives available? No one has died yet from too many whole food supplements, but drugs taken as prescribed kill at least 106,000 people annually and more than two million people suffer serious side effects.
Isn’t it time for another approach? Like Taking Control of Your Health without drugs.
- iInvestigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2008
- iiTime Healthland May 1, 2012
- iii Time Healthland May 1, 2012
- ivStatehealthfacts.org, Retail Prescription Drugs Filled at Pharmacies (Annual per Capita by Age), 2010
- v AlterNet April 26, 2012
- vi The Institute for Safe Medication Practices
Read the Full Article Here: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/17/astaxanthin-vs-avastin-dangers.aspx