one in six US women….

between the ages of 20 and 44 are on…. anti-depressants!!!

“America – land of the drugged… ”

Paragraph 8 reads: “Women in the same age range are tipping the scales on prescription drug use. Nearly half of women ages 20 to 44 are being treated for a chronic condition, according to the research. Antidepressants are the most commonly used medication among this group, consumed by 16 percent of the demographic.”

Paragraph 11 reads: “For youth age 19 and under, the research ranks asthma and allergy drugs as the most commonly prescribed, followed by medications for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and antidepressants. The number of girls taking ADHD medication rose 72 percent from 2001 to 2007, a spike Alexander said is staggering.”

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=89175


New report calls U.S. ‘chronic medication nation’

by Whitney Jackson
May 14, 2008

For the first time, more than half of all insured Americans are taking prescription drugs for chronic health problems, according to new research. And it’s not just seniors in line at the pharmacy.

Younger adults showed the steepest rise in chronic medication use and nearly 30 percent of the nation’s children, ages 19 and under, are on long-term prescription drugs, the data, published Tuesday by Medco Health Solutions, revealed.

Experts in Chicago say these numbers should prompt a red light for patients and parents.

“Millions of Americans are burdened by their prescription costs and side effects,” said Dr. Caleb Alexander, a prescription drug expert from University of Chicago. “Although many patients are on medicines they should be on, in many cases patients’ prescription list can be trimmed, saving them money and avoiding potential side effects from drugs that might not necessary.”

Treatments for high cholesterol and high blood pressure top the charts for medications used by the general population. The new research shows that for men ages 20 to 44, the use of cholesterol drugs surged more than 80 percent over a recent seven-year period, a statistic Alexander said is striking.

“Diet and exercise is the first step in treatment in of high cholesterol,” said Alexander, adding that he typically does not begin screening a patient’s cholesterol until they are age 30 or 35. “All too often patients and physicians may opt for drug treatment when diet and exercise alone might do the trick, especially in young populations who have a low baseline risk of heart disease.”

Alexander also pointed to the “epidemic of obesity” that increases the risk of heart disease, which is why cholesterol-lowering drugs are so often prescribed, he said.

Women in the same age range are tipping the scales on prescription drug use. Nearly half of women ages 20 to 44 are being treated for a chronic condition, according to the research. Antidepressants are the most commonly used medication among this group, consumed by 16 percent of the demographic.

While 16 percent is a substantial statistic, more evaluation needs to be done to determine if this drug category is being properly prescribed, Alexander said. Many people are on antidepressants who do not need them, but ironically many people need to be on them who are not, he said, adding that advertising might have a role in overall increased prescription drug use.

“There’s no question that the pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars on promotion and marketing, which definitely increases the use of prescription drugs,” he said. “In some settings this is good and some it’s bad, since underuse and overuse of prescription drugs are both big problems. The challenge we face as a society is trying to optimize the use of medicine to improve public health.”

For youth age 19 and under, the research ranks asthma and allergy drugs as the most commonly prescribed, followed by medications for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and antidepressants. The number of girls taking ADHD medication rose 72 percent from 2001 to 2007, a spike Alexander said is staggering.

“There’s no question that there is a subset of children … that require these [ADHD drugs],” Alexander said, “but I think it’s a legitimate concern that some of these medicines may be overused in children to treat conditions that don’t truly represent a serious deviation from normal adolescence.”

While this research paints an unhealthy picture of America, according to Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco’s chief medical officer, there is the silver lining that people are receiving needed care to prevent serious illness down the road. Medco is a pharmacy benefit manager.

“We have some of the highest rate of prescription drugs in the world,” Alexander said, “but I’m not sure that translates to being healthy. The real challenge for patients, doctors and policy makers is to try to maximize the use of drugs where they’re going to beneficial, and minimize them in context where they’re not,” he said.

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