Prescription Drugs Essay

Doctors are becoming more interested in money than the overall health of their patients. What is the normal doctor visit for someone who has leg pain? A quick drive to the office, have the doctor come in and ask, “Does this hurt? ” “Does it hurt when I do this? ” These are pretty standard questions that can only really be measured by the patient. So, to these questions the patient says yes and the doctor writes a prescription for Motrin 800mg for the pain. The doctor has written a prescription for a drug that can be substituted with over-the-counter Ibuprofen. Two weeks pass and the leg pain is still there bothering the patient.

After being notified the doctor sees the patient basically to ask them if the last prescription worked at all, and when the patient says, “Oh, it worked a little,” the doctor writes a prescription for a drug that is stronger and has addictive properties. The most common type of pain pills prescribed for something like “leg pain” is Hydrocodone in combination with Acetaminophen. Familiar names include Vicodin, Norco, Lortabs, Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, Vicodin HP, and Vicaprofen. This situation between a doctor and his/her patient, although hypothetical, is not very far from the truth.

Take into consideration, “In one study, in which doctors and nurse practitioners were presented with part of a clinical scenario—as would occur when first seeing a patient with a medical problem—and then encouraged to ask to find out more about the source of the problem, 65% of doctors recommended that a patient complaining of insomnia be treated with sleeping pills even though, had they asked more questions about the patient, they would have found that the patient was not exercising, was drinking coffee in the evening, and, although awakening at 4 a. m. was actually getting seven hours of sleep by then. ” (Now there are two main ideas to be taken away from this situation.

The first is that (some, not all) doctors are prescribing medication by guessing. They don’t have the time to really delve deep into the reason why the patient is experiencing pain, and what can be done to heal the pain. The drugs described above, being used as pain pills have no healing properties. All these pain pills do is mask the pain. The experts at Health Central state, “Hydrocodone works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain. (Health Central) The second point being made is that these drugs containing “opiates” (drugs derived from opium, also known as narcotics) have extremely addictive properties. “Along with its benefits, this medication may cause abnormal drug-seeking behavior (addiction). This risk may be increased if you have abused alcohol or drugs in the past. ” (Health Central) If one ever questions why or how people can become addicted to pain meds, try these numbers on for size. “…. abuse of prescription opioids, like morphine, oxycodone, and codeine.

The use of these drugs has increased 402 percent from 1997 to 2007, according to the drug control office. ” (McCarthy) One way to lower the prescribing of these drugs is by re-educating the doctors prescribing the medication states McCarthy. “The other piece of the plan would require doctors and other clinicians to undergo mandatory education about appropriate prescribing for pain medications. This would affect a large number of doctors, as a DEA registry authorizes more than 700,000 physicians to prescribe extended-release opioids. (McCarthy) Hopefully this continued education would give doctors the insight and knowledge to help diagnose the pain patients experience and encourage simple life-style (changing diet, exercising, etc) changes to promote healing instead of masking the pain with pills.

Even when prescribed a type of medication that is supposed to aid a patient in recovery to an issue such as depression, there is still the risk of serious injury including death. “Venlafaxine (Effexor) was named in 17. deaths per million prescriptions associated with selected antidepressants between 1993 and 2002. The number of deaths linked to venlafaxine rose during this time, whereas those associated with SSRIs remained relatively constant. Citalopram (Celexa) was named in seven deaths per million prescriptions, which was the highest for the named SSRIs (paroxetine 2. 9, fluoxetine 4. 0). ” (Chemist & Druggist) This just shows that even though legend drugs (non-controlled substances) when taken as directed, can still be dangerous.

Now there is no disputing how many people that anti-depressants actually help so these numbers seem insignificant, but each death is directly related to doctors prescribing medication when it’s a possibility that it is unnecessary. Another common mistake made or overlooked by doctors is that when they reach for that prescription pad, they fail to acknowledge that a symptom they trying to treat could in fact be a side-effect of another drug. For example, let’s say that a patient’s body is retaining too much water. The doctor, after doing some quick preliminary testing, puts the patient on Lasix, a diuretic.

Now here is a list of the side effects from Lasix “muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, confusion, thirst, upset stomach, vomiting, blurred vision, headache, restlessness, and constipation. ” (Pub Med) A week later the patient decides that because they aren’t feeling good, it must be because that other doctor doesn’t know what he/she is doing. So the patient goes to the next doctor who notices that the patient has constipation and restlessness. Now instead of trying to find out what the underlying cause(s) are the doctor grabs the script pad and writes up a prescription for Colace (constipation) and one for Ambien (restlessness).

A week later the patient is calling complaining about an upset stomach so the doctor writes a prescription for Prilosec, known to for use against stomach problems. In just over three weeks, this imaginary patient is now on four new medications. This situation is all but unreal; take this account put forth by Gurwitz Rochan, a Physicians Assistant, “The “disease” for which a drug is prescribed is actually an adverse reaction to another drug, masquerading as a disease but unfortunately not recognized by doctor and patient as such.

Instead of lowering the dose of the offending drug or replacing it with a safer alternative, the physician adds a second drug to the regimen to “treat” the adverse drug reaction caused by the first drug. ” (Rochan) The cost of prescription drugs is consequently almost as damaging as the drugs themselves. “For too long, many seniors and people with disabilities have struggled to choose between paying for needed prescription medication and other necessities, like food, rent and utilities,” says Dr. Sebelius MD. The numbers of prescriptions filled in the US, are truly outrageous. In 2003, an estimated 3. 4 billion prescriptions were filled in retail drugstores and by mail order in the United States. That averages out to 11. 7 prescriptions filled for each of the 290 million people in this country. ” (Ukens) Considering that these numbers don’t apply to each and every person in the population, the average amount of prescriptions per person is quite a bit higher. In fact, “In a study based on data from 2000, more than twice as many prescriptions were filled for those 65 and older (23. 5 prescriptions per year) than for those younger than 65 (10. prescriptions per year). ” (Stagnitti)

As astonishing as this average is, the average amount of money spent on a prescription in 2008 was $71. 69 according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. The main proponent pushing prices for medications sky high is the manufacturing companies. “Manufacturer spending on advertising was over 1. 5 times as much in 2009 ($10. 9 billion) as in 1999 ($6. 6 billion). ” (IMS Health) This means that $10. 9 billion dollars was used to promote drugs that were probably bullied (forced) through the FDA without complete and proper testing. The best doctors, of whom there are many, do not waste their time talking to drug sales people, toss promotional materials away, and ignore drug ads in medical journals. Too many other doctors, however, are heavily influenced by drug companies, accepting free meals, free drinks, and free medical books in exchange for letting the drug companies educate them. ” (FDA) The FDA has been intimidated over the past few years but as of 2008, the strict and grueling process to pass a drug for consumer use has become more strict with the idea that passing drugs not completely tested does not happen anymore.

The advantages of prescription drugs cannot be ignored. For decades, doctors have been concocting new elixirs to soothe patients whether they have a sore throat or something more serious. In many instances, prescription drugs can even be life saving, but many times the dangers outweigh the benefits and can have a side effect that is more life threatening that the original reason the drug was prescribed. Ever wonder where all of the healthy pill takers are? That’s because there are none. Any person taking 12 prescriptions is not going to be healthy.

On average, people in the U. S are taking more prescriptions than ever before. With a little common sense, one can see that these meds aren’t helping in the end. One can deduce that because all of the professional views and research done on the subject of prescription drugs, and that is that they are more harmful than helpful. Yes they may help a person maintain a disease not manageable with diet and exercise but majority of pill takers in America today could greatly reduce their use of these drugs with simple lifestyle changes.

Changing a diet or sleep cycle has to start with the patient, but also the doctor has to be on board. With doctors just grabbing for the script pad right away helps no one (especially the patient) except the pharmaceutical manufacturing companies.

Works Cited

McCarthy, Meghan. “Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse Starts With Education, Feds Say. ” Nationaljournal. com 19 Apr. 2011. General OneFile. Tues. 15 Apr. 2011. Health Central. Home Page. 15 Apr. 2011 . Everitt DE, Avorn J, Baker MW. Clinical decision-making in the evaluation and treatment of insomnia.

American Journal of Medicine Sep 1990; 89: 357 – 362. 15 Apr. 2011 Venlafaxine deaths are increasing, Government figures reveal. ” Chemist & Druggist (2004): 10. General OneFile. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. Pub Med. Home Page. 15 Apr. 2011 . Rochon PA, Gurwitz JH. Optimising drug treatment for elderly people: The prescribing cascade. British Medical Journal Oct 25, 1997; 315: 1096 – 1099. Nearly 4 Million Medicare Beneficiaries Receive Help with Prescription Drug Cost under Affordable Care Act. ” Managed Care Weekly Digest 4 Apr. 2011: 55.

Academic OneFile. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. Ukens C. How mail order pharmacy gained in market share in 2003. Drug Topics Mar 22, 2004; 148. Stagnitti MN. Trends in outpatient prescription drug utilization and expenditures,1997-2000: AHRQ Statistical Brief # 21, Feb 2004. Available at: National Association of Chain Drug Stores, “Industry Facts-at-a-Glance,” IMS Health, “IMS Health Reports U. S. Prescription Sales Grew 5. 1 Percent in 2009, to $300. 3 Billion” < http://www. imshealth. com> FDA. gov. Home Page. http://www. fda. gov/cder/warn/index. htm