Have a headache? Here’s your daily dose of Motrin. Bad anxiety? Here’s some Xanax. Depression? Sinequan. Chronic pain? Oxycodone. Name a problem, and there’s a chemical cocktail waiting for you on some shelf somewhere.
This isn’t about disregarding the benefit that pharmaceuticals have had on people of all ages and backgrounds. Rather, it’s about shedding light on the evils of prescription drugs, and how we need to face this arising problem.
Nevertheless, pharmaceuticals have given the dying a fighting chance, helping many to overcome problems with anxiety, depression, or chronic pain, and even allowing the elderly to live a comfortable life.
Still, despite all this good, there is a downside. That downside is blatant fraud, loopholes, and a competitive market that, in many instances, has been hijacked. That combined with the fact there’s an epidemic of over-prescribed prescriptions running awry in the United States leaves a bad taste in the country.
To give perspective to how large the pharmaceutical market is, the average American spends $1,000 per year on pharmaceuticals, and seven out of 10 Americans are on at least one prescription. That is 70% of 325 million people, which, multiplied by 1,000 equals 227.5 billion dollars in annual revenue by Big Pharma JUST in the U.S.
This enormous market thrives on the United States’ shortage of price regulations and the unhealthy American lifestyle, which includes overeating, little exercise, and hours of anxiety-provoking work – for which pills then have to be the replacement.
Antibiotics make up 17% of all prescriptions, followed by anti-depressants (13%) and then highly addictive opioids (13%).
Once again, it is important to emphasize the importance of pharmaceuticals. Usually, common chronic issues like obesity would heavily affect the average life expectancy. However, the U.S. ranks 26 in life expectancy at an average of 80.1 years, possibly thanks to high rates of diagnoses.
With good new including the increasing life expectancy, there must also be bad news. As Americans’ use of pharmaceutical drugs has increased, so has drug abuse.
Prescriptions are being given out constantly – 67.2% of office physicians give out prescriptions, amassing to 2.3 billion drugs being provided/ordered. These tend to be the heavier, more dangerous drugs (like opioids) that doctors must order directly.
Over-prescribing has become somewhat common, even when doctors use their best judgement. Doctors have little time to spend with patients, and many patients have been exposed to ads influencing them to request prescriptions from their doctors.
The abuse of prescriptions drugs isn’t a new phenomenon. However, the extent to which prescription drugs are being used is now becoming wider known. Also, the amount that is actually being reported might just be the tip of the iceberg.
For example, more people die from overdosing on prescription drugs than overdosing on all other illicit drugs combined.
That is absolutely insane, considering the war on drugs. Yes, the war on drugs is an attempt to curve the rise of crime rates that come hand-in-hand with illicit drugs, but it is also an attempt to stop the death of addicts. It’s as if the U.S. government sees the problem of legal drug abuse as perfectly fine to ignore as long as they get to heavily tax the billion-dollar market.
In 2008, 20% of Americans abused prescription drugs. Because this was a report from over seven years ago, it is likely that those statistics have gone up significantly, and have possibly even doubled.
Yes, there has been an increase of funding for prescription drugs in an attempt to fight the epidemic, but the effort was small and useless compared to the problem itself.
What statistics would persuade the U.S. to largely fund treatment for prescription abusers and safety belts to prevent so many deaths.
For instance, drug overdoses outnumber car accidents in 29 states. The U.S. made the law requiring a seatbelt illegal for people’s benefit. Yet today we still see a fairly weak safety belt around prescriptions, even though the deaths tied to them are only increasing. That doesn’t really make sense.
And still nothing has changed.