It seems as though there’s a pill consumers can pop for just about any medical condition or ailment. We’re certainly lucky to live in a time where many minor and major medical conditions can be kept under control by the use of prescription medicines. But the very same drugs that are supposed to help us can be harming us instead. Consumers shell out millions of dollars every year for prescription medications and often take for granted that these prescription drugs have been deemed as safe. Not only are prescription drugs highly overpriced, but many drugs have been proven to be unsafe as well.
The arthritis drug, Vioxx, was recently determined to be responsible for increasing the risk of heart disease. And a recent study showed that many acid-suppressing drugs showed dramatic increases in risk of pneumonia. Some drugs can have deadly consequences, as proven in a study performed by Women’s Health Initiative Study, which found that certain hormone replacement drugs were actually causing breast cancer, stroke and heart attack, resulting in thousands of deaths in postmenopausal women.
Drug companies focus on creating drugs for chronic conditions and then sit back and enjoy the patent for 17 years. That means no other company can then compete and the original drug company can charge the public whatever exorbitant price they wish. Chronic conditions mean more long-term drug treatment which means big bucks for the prescription drug industry. Just ask any senior citizen trying to decide between buying groceries and buying their over-priced prescription meds how high the cost can be. It’s no wonder so many Americans are making the trek up to Canada or south of the border to buy medications at a greatly reduced price. Some physicians are quick to point out that major retail chains have recently begun offering $4.00 prescriptions for certain meds, but the truth is the amount of prescription medication offered on these $4.00 plans are a meager few compared to hundreds of prescribed medicines taken by Americans everyday.
Drug companies don’t want the public to know that adverse side effects are often part of the way medications work in the body. But the fact is that over 100,000 people die every year in the U.S. from taking properly prescribed medications. That makes drug-related adverse effects the third cause of death in the U.S. And in addition, countless other people are adversely effected by presciption meds to various degrees.
As for the doctors who prescribe these medications, in a recent article in The New York Times, the makers of some anemia drugs, Agmen and Johnson & Johnson, have been paying doctors hundreds of millions of dollars to prescribe their medications. Although the Food and Drug Administration released a report stating that these anemia medications do not improve the quality of life for patients taking the drug and have also been found to shorten patient’s lives when taken in higher doses. Federal law prohibits drug manufacturers from paying physicians for prescribing medicines, but companies can rebate part of the cost doctors pay for the anemia drugs they dispense in their offices as part of patient treatment. The Times article goes on to say that these particular anemia drugs are given in intravenous form right in the doctor’s office so the rebate system applies here. Doctors also receive reimbursements from Medicare and private insurers for these drugs, often at a markup over the doctor’s original purchase price. This is a pretty good incentive for doctors to prescribe medicines they stand to make a profit on.
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