Are doctors over-prescribing medications to patients these days? If so then why are patients being prescribed drugs they don’t need? Could it be because doctors are doing this for profit or are they simply being too liberal with medications? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse prescriptions have increased by six times between 1991 and 2010. Alongside this, the number of overdoses from prescription drugs has tripled since 1999.
In 2008 antipsychotic medications became the top selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States of America with over $14 billion in sales. This surpassed that of drugs used to treat cholesterol, acid reflux or other conditions most would expect to be more prevalent than psychotic disorders.
Some often speculate that the misuse of prescribing medications is at fault from both the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies. Drug companies pay doctors to speak introducing their new drugs and some believe pay doctors to promote usage of these drugs in their work. According to WalletPop, this year Novo Nordisk settled a lawsuit with the Department of Justice for offering kickbacks to pharmacists at RiteAid who promoted drugs by Novo Nordisk which is used to treat diabetes.
Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company, paid $1.4 billion in a settlement for having illegally marketed the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa as treatment for Alzheimer’s and dementia in elderly patients. At the time the drug was unapproved for these uses and also was shown to cause obesity and diabetes. In 2010 the nation’s largest drug companies paid more than $2.6 million in speaking fees to doctors in the Lower Hudson Valley.
18 out of 20 authors of the new clinical guidelines by the American Psychiatric Association, for treating depression, bipolar disorders and schizophrenia had financial ties to at least one drug company. These treatments account for around $25 billion in prescription drug sales annually. With doctors and the companies selling the drugs being linked at a financial level there will always be a risk of bias when the doctors prescribe medications to patients. The doctor’s original and only priority was for the welfare of the patient. With financial links however the doctor may fill out unnecessary or unsafe prescription for their own profit.
In 2007 around 783,936 people died from over-use of medicinal intervention. This figure outranked those who died from cancer or heart disease. Heath Ledger, actor and Oscar nominee was taking six legitimately prescribed medications all deemed to be safe. He however died of overdose. Most recently there has been controversy as to the death of Michael Jackson; there is trial over whether or not Michael Jackson died due to administration of a fatal overdose of anesthetic used to treat Michael’s insomnia.
There is fear that children may be at risk from over-eager doctors to diagnose children with mental or psychological disorders at young ages. Children diagnosed find themselves on medications for the majority of their young lives. Medications at such a young age often have serious side-effects and symptoms of these are treated by yet more medications.
An example of this is Evan Kitchens; at 18 months old Evan was diagnose with autism spectral disorder and given Adderall. At 2 and a half years old was then diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. At the age of 3 doctors put Evan on his first anti-psychotic Risperdal. At the age of 5 Evan was first hospitalized whilst on Risperdal and two other drugs. His mother said that “Every drug created new symptoms, and then you had to treat those symptoms.”
Over $3 billion is spent annually by pharmaceutical companies on advertising prescription drugs to consumers in the US. Much of this advertising leads to doctors over-prescribing unnecessary and potentially addictive or unsafe drugs.
Society may be partially at fault with consumers looking for a ‘magic pill’ that will immediately fix any problem or issue whether it needs treating or not. Diet pills are nowadays used for those without any health issues due to obesity. These dietary pills enable those with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia by causing people who were initially at healthy weights to become severely under-weight.
As depression has become more widely recognized and accepted more people have started consuming prescription drugs for mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. There are patients who undoubtedly need these drugs for their conditions. However a large percentage of those whom take anti-depressants do so without any medical necessity. Many take anti-depressants to help manage or escape from the already manageable stresses of their daily lives.
Prescribed medications are rising far beyond the medical need for them. These medications will often be used in conjunction with other approved prescribed medications. Individually these medications in correct doses are usually safe however when more than one are used together they can cause overdose or have other severe side-effects. It is not wholly the fault of doctors though they do take a large portion of the blame. In the end it is of the fault of the consumers, doctors and of the pharmaceutical companies who create the drugs.
Filed under: Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Conditions and Disorders · Tags: anxiety, depression, mental disorders, painkiller addiction, Prescription Drug Abuse, prescription drug addiction, prescription drugs, prescription medication