It’s been a few years since we uncovered 20 of the most shocking prescription drug statistics.
If you read that article, you learned that over 100,000 people die each year from prescription drug side effects in the United States alone (and that’s just from side effects, it doesn’t include deaths from accidental mix-ups, prescribing errors and overdoses).
It’s a frightening prospect, especially when you consider that the pharmaceutical companies are the most profitable U.S. business, raking in $650 billion a year (more than $300 billion of which comes from the U.S. alone). The disparity between producing products that kill yet continuing to earn billions in profits is unsettling, to put it mildly, but not surprising because drug companies spend nearly twice as much on marketing as they do on research.
In other words, they’re much more concerned with selling their drugs than they are with making sure that they are safe and effective.
And their marketing tactics work. Far too many Americans are convinced that the only way they can be pain free and well is by taking medications. Many believe pharmaceuticals equal health care because, sadly, that is the only option they’ve been given. Medications are to most diseases what a closet is to your mess … a way to simply cover up the problem (without doing anything to actually resolve it).
Unlike a closet, however, medications are often dangerous, and it’s not unusual for them to cause more problems than they solve.
Yes, there are certainly exceptions, and when used appropriately medications can and do save lives. But this is in the minority of circumstances, especially when it comes to chronic conditions like back pain that are far better off being treated with lifestyle-based strategies.
If you take only one thing away from this article, let it be this: prescription drugs are not the only option and they certainly are not health care. If you truly want to be well, physically, mentally and emotionally, you’ve got to focus on healing and restoring balance and homeostasis in your body. There is no drug that can do that, and don’t believe anyone who tells you there is.
Now, on to the statistics, which come from Health, United States, 2013, the federal government’s annual report on the nation’s health.[i] As you browse through this list you will get a clear picture of just how reliant we have become on medications, and why that is one of the biggest detriments to public (i.e. your) health.
Prescription Drug Statistics: The Latest Facts to Shock You
- The percentage of the population taking at least one prescription drug during the past 30 days increased from 39% in 1998-1994 to 47.5% in 2007-2010
- During the same period, the percentage taking three or more prescription drugs rose from 11.8% to 20.8%, and the percentage taking five or more drugs more than doubled from 4% to 10.1%.
- In 2011, $263 billion was spent on prescription drugs, accounting for 9.7% of all national health expenditures (up from 5.6% in 1990)
- Prescription drug spending grew 11.6% from 1990-2000, much faster than spending for hospital, physician and clinic care; spending on prescription drugs is projected to grow through 2012 and 2013
- Between 1988-1994 and 2007-2010, the percentage of Americans who took no prescription drugs in the past 30 days decreased from 60.9% to 52.5%, while the percentage taking five or more drugs increased from 4% to 10%
- About one-quarter of children reported taking one to four drugs in the past 30 days, compared with one-half of adults and nine in 10 of those aged 65 and older
- The most commonly used drug classes among adults are cardiovascular drugs (used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease), cholesterol-lowering drugs, pain relievers and antidepressants
- Use of cholesterol-lowering drugs among people aged 18-64 increased more than six-fold since 1988-1994
- In 2007-2010, nearly 14% of U.S. adults took five or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days; among people over 65, 47.5% took five or more drugs as did 41.7% of people aged 45-64
- The use of antidepressants increased more than four-fold, from 2.4% to 10.8%, between 1998-1994 and 2007-2010
- In 2009-2010, more than 21 percent of children and nearly 40 percent of adults were prescribed antibiotics solely for cold symptoms, a practice that contributes to antibiotic resistance (and antibiotics are not effective against cold viruses)
- Use of opioid pain relievers increased 300% between 1999 and 2010
- Death rates from poisoning involving opioid pain relievers more than tripled between 2000 and 2010; opioid poisoning deaths increased in the past decade for both men and women, for all age groups over 15 and for all racial groups … shocking? Absolutely. And if you want to be shocked even more, click below to find out which incredibly common pain relievers are actually the most dangerous of all …