Overprescription of Medication

Nowadays, there is practically a pill for almost any condition, symptom, or slightest abnormality in the human body. The moment when someone starts to feel any minor inconvenience or discomfort, they go running to their doctor to write a prescription to make it all better. Whether it’s taking a pill to lose weight, or being unable to “perform” sexually, America has become a pill-popping nation.

Last year, researchers from Mayo Clinic (a non-profit medical and research center) found that nearly 70 percent of Americans were on at least one prescription drug, and 20 percent of them were taking more than five prescriptions at once (“Public Citizen”). There is no doubt that for many people, prescriptions are beneficial and even lifesaving in some cases, but hundreds of millions of these prescriptions are either entirely unnecessary or incredibly dangerous. I believe that America has become dependent on taking prescription drugs for instant relief and it is time for alternative methods to be put into action.

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According to the Center of Disease Control, the percent of people using at least one prescription drug in the past month increased nearly 50 percent between 2007 and 2010 (“Public Citizen”). There are many reasons for this increase. First, many prescription medications are now being advertised through direct marketing on television commercials or in magazines. Many people see these commercials and decide that they have the symptoms described and are then sucked into the fake reality that they have a problem when they really don’t.

People soon start self-diagnosing and telling their doctors what they should prescribe them instead of visa versa. Another reason why prescription drug use is on the rise is because of the side effects of other medications. All medications have side effects, and some are worse than others. When a doctor prescribes one drug for a certain treatment, it can cause side effects such as depression, mania, anxiety, insomnia, and many other symptoms that then lead to taking more pills to counteract those symptoms (Weber 14). This can be a never-ending cycle of prescription drug use.

So, how do we end this epidemic? The answer is simple: exercise. Exercise is the key to many of America’s over prescribing habits. In fact, some doctors have already begun to write “green prescriptions” for exercise and have gotten great results. Advocates of the practice maintain that this new type of prescription is both a smart and cost-effective way to help patients stay healthy. “Instead of just advising patients to try to get some exercise, health-care professionals are now writing out prescriptions, making formal requests for patients to get active” (“Institute of Lifestyle Medicine”).

Exercise can be beneficial to stopping the prescription of many medications, not just for weight loss but for anxiety, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, diabetes, and many more. People who exercise are 8 times less likely to be depressed than people who don’t exercise (“Institute of Lifestyle Medicine”) and because 13 percent of Americans are prescribed antidepressants every year (“Public Citizen”), that number could dramatically decrease if they would just start exercising.

Another solution to solve this over-prescribing epidemic is to stop advertising medication on television and in magazines. Doctors should know about these medications and if the patient absolutely needs them, then they can be given. People should not be self-diagnosing once they see a television commercial because they assume they have the same problem as the person in the commercial. Banning these advertisements altogether would decrease the amount of prescriptions that are being written unnecessarily.

The last form of action that should be taken in order to decrease the amount of prescriptions is for a networking system to be used. What I mean by this is to create a database where all doctors and pharmacies can see what other doctors are prescribing and to be able to see which medications the patient is currently taking. This would help decrease the likelihood of “doctor hopping” which means jumping from doctor to doctor until the desired medication is prescribed (Parker 11). This is a method that prescription abusers use in order to obtain more medication.

If a database was created to keep track of everyone’s prescription track record, then doctors would catch onto these “doctor hoppers” and would be able to put a stop to writing prescriptions to people who don’t really need them. This method would also help doctors to see other medications other doctors might be prescribing to patients and they would then know not to prescribe a medication that could be lethal when mixed with another medication another doctor could be prescribing.

Overall, all of these proposals could be used to decrease the amount of people that are on prescription medications and all of them could be very effective and minimally invasive. Although America has become way too dependent on prescribing a pill for almost any condition, many people could argue, is that such a bad thing? This is 2013 and modern medicine has contributed to so many great things, aren’t we just being progressive? People are living longer, thus more health conditions and we are just treating what needs to be treated!

Well, there is no argument that some medications are necessary for some people to survive and yes, people are living longer than they used to, but doctors often will give medications to patients even if they don’t think they need it. According to a study done by The National Institutes of Health, 54 percent of the time doctors will prescribe a specific brand and type of medication if patients ask for it, even if they don’t think it is medically necessary (Weber 24). Overdose and allergic reactions are also negative effects that many drugs could potentially have.

One hundred thousand Americans die every year from the effects of prescription medications and over a million Americans a year are admitted to the hospital because they have had a bad reaction to a medication (“Public Citizen”). About a quarter of the prescriptions that doctors write for the elderly have a potentially life threatening side effect that goes unspoken for. So yes, the over prescribing of medication is a bad thing and even though we live in a world of modern medicine, doctors need to think twice before writing out a prescription that could potentially be for someone’s death.

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