Let’s Draw a Picture of Prescription Drug Use in America Today
Let’s start with the landscape…
50% of Americans are taking some kind of medication. Hundreds of thousands of deaths each year occur from adverse drug reactions. Close to $300 billion is spent a year on prescriptive drugs –in 2009 almost $11 billion was spent on antibiotic therapy alone. And resistant infections now account for $20 billion in annual health care costs. Livestock consume 32 million pounds of antibiotics in 2012. 26% of adults in the United States are now taking a statin – costing the healthcare system $20 billion annually. 40 million Americans have a chronic sleep disorder and 62% of adults experience a sleep problem a few nights per week. Adverse reactions to drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and in 2010 antidepressants were the second most commonly prescribed medication. We’ve got our background.
Now let’s focus in on our subjects…Antibiotics, Statins for high cholesterol, GERD, Antihistamines, Medications for the common cold and flu, Sleep Aids, Steroids, NSAIDs, Psychiatric Medications for adults, children, and adolescents, ADHD medications, Opioids for chronic pain, Antihypertensive drugs, Diabetes, Osteopenia and other preconditions. It’s a crowded landscape!
And now for the master critique. We are over medicated and under informed. Dr. Andrew Weil tells us, “We have a problem. More people are taking more medications than ever before, and that is cause for concern…No responsible physician today would reject medications as a method of treating disease and maintaining health. But it is one method only.”
His new book, Mind Over Meds: Know When Drugs are Necessary, When Alternatives Are Better – and When to Let Your Body Heal on Its Own, is said to be the go to resource for anyone who is sick and tired of being sick and tired. (And as our landscape demonstrates that is a much bigger audience than we’d like.) Weil’s solution is simple, educate. “My reason for writing this book is simple. I believe that few people on popular medications understand how they work, whether they work well enough to justify the risks of using them, and what other effective methods of treatment are available to use along with them or in place of them.”