The drug problem in North America is at it’s breaking point. Illegal drugs like heroin are devastating communities, towns and cities across the US and Canada. This article, however, is not about dangerous street drugs. It’s about the rampant over-prescribing practices in North America and not just for the drugs you may be thinking of like prescription painkillers. Yes, painkiller abuse is a hot button issue right now because of the vast number of people taking them every day for both legitimate and improper reasons. But the truth is there are other substances out there, legal ones, that are lining the pockets of pharmaceutical CEO’s. Obviously the industry is out to make money, both in Canada and the US. The problem is is that there are simply too many people using drugs like antidepressants, sedatives, tranquilizers and, of course, painkillers. In the US right now there are 30 million people taking antidepressants. Last year 250 million prescriptions for narcotic painkillers were issued. Is it possible that that many people actually need to take the drugs? There’s no way. It would be logical to assume that many of those prescriptions are going to people who fully intend to misuse them in order to get high, just as many people will abuse their Ativan prescriptions in order to relax and mellow out, similar to a person who smoke’s pot “just to relax”. There is no doubt in many people’s minds that the pharmaceutical companies are making money off of people who are addicted to certain medications, and it seems that there isn’t reform or legislation coming anytime soon.
I came across a list of 21 facts regarding the American pharmaceutical disaster. It seemed like a good idea to share them, and some of them or just downright scary.
#1 According to the New York Times, more than 30 million Americans are currently taking antidepressants.
#2 The rate of antidepressant use among middle aged women is far higher than for the population as a whole. At this point, one out of every four women in their 40s and 50s is taking an antidepressant medication.
#3 Americans account for about five percent of the global population, but we buy more than 50 percent of the pharmaceutical drugs.
#4 Americans also consume a whopping 80 percent of all prescription painkillers.
#5 It is hard to believe, but doctors in the United States write 259 million prescriptions for painkillers each year. Prescription painkillers are some of the most addictive legal drugs, and our doctors areserving as enablers for millions up0n millions of Americans that find themselves hooked on drugs that they cannot kick.
#6 Overall, pharmaceutical drug use in America is at an all-time high. According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 70 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs.
#7 According to the CDC, approximately 9 out of every 10 Americans that are at least 60 years old say that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last month.
#8 In 2010, the average teen in the United States was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs. Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.
#9 A very disturbing Government Accountability Office report found that approximately one-third of all foster children in the United States are on at least one psychiatric drug.
#10 An astounding 95 percent of the “experimental medicines” that the pharmaceutical industry produces are found not to be safe and are never approved. Of the remaining 5 percent that are approved, we often do not find out that they are deadly to us until decades later.
#11 One study discovered that mothers that took antidepressants during pregnancy were four times more likely to have a baby that developed an autism spectrum disorder.
#12 It has been estimated that prescription drugs kill approximately 200,000 people in the United States every single year.
#13 An American dies from an unintentional prescription drug overdose every 19 minutes. According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, accidental prescription drug overdose is “the leading cause of acutepreventable death for Americans”.
#14 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.
#15 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.
#16 The number of prescription drug overdose deaths in the United States is five times higher than it was back in 1980.
#17 A survey conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that more than 15 percent of all U.S. high school seniors abuse prescription drugs.
#18 More than 26 million women over the age of 25 say that they are “using prescription medications for unintended uses“.
#19 If all of these antidepressants are helping, then why are more Americans killing themselves? The suicide rate for Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 increased by nearly 30 percent between 1999 and 2010. The number of Americans that die by suicide is now greater than the number of Americans that die as a result of car accidents every year.
#20 Antidepressant use has been linked to mass shootings in America over and over and over again, and yet the mainstream media is eerily quiet about this. Is it because they don’t want to threaten one of their greatest sources of advertising revenue?
#21 The amount of money that the pharmaceutical industry is raking in is astronomical. It has been reported that Americans spent more than 280 billion dollars on prescription drugs during 2013.
These facts that were presented are American ones, but there is no doubt that a number of these also apply to the Canadian pharmaceutical business and in previous articles we’ve discussed the growing problem of prescription medications in Canada. Something needs to be done. Why are doctors issuing so many of these prescriptions when they must know that they are harming their patients? Of course it can’t just be the doctors’ faults, especially when North American physicians are now teaming up with a wide variety of government departments as well as community advocates and so on to help prevent drug abuse, but there must be someone to lay the blame on. But it’s also possible that everyone involved in the giant mess of pharmaceuticals and legal medications share the blame, from patient to doctor to the pharmaceutical industry itself. One thing is for sure though, the drug companies do help save millions of lives, but they aren’t a charity, and they are in business to make money, even if it means people get addicted to their product.