Drug Awareness Week: How Safe are Prescription Drugs?

Drug Awareness Week: How Safe are Prescription Drugs?


The American Recall Centre is running an outreach programme to raise awareness of the use of medical drugs in the USA  and part of the outreach consists of asking bloggers to share the information with their networks during drug awareness week.  Upon review of the facts, it is clear why: Did you know, the United States alone consumes 75% of the worlds prescription drugs? And that:

  •  700,000 emergency room visits each year are due to incorrect medication use;
  • Adverse drug reactions and noncompliance are responsible for 28% of hospitalizations of the elderly;
  • 2/3 of all doctors’ visits end with a prescription being written;
  • Each year 32,000 seniors suffer hip fractures caused by medication-related problems;
  • Medication-related problems are estimated to be one of the top five causes of death for people 65 and over;
  • On average, at least one drug is recalled every month in the United States.

These facts are staggering – research suggests that there is a rapid increase in legal drug consumption globally – in addition to illegal drug consumption – not just in the USA.

Judging by the published list of recalled medicines in Australia, there seem to be a lot fewer recalls. Is that because it is harder to register a drug in the first place?  On the other hand, the misuse of prescription drugs has increased dramatically over the past decade according to the Australian Prescriber. The details will differ from market to market but the principle remains – are we too quick and careless in taking prescription drugs?

We need to take personal responsibility and pay more attention when taking prescription drugs in addition to supporting awareness raising initiatives. We need to research their background, their effectiveness and make the information publicly available. We need to ask detailed questions of prescribing doctors and find out about potential alternatives.

And what is the role of the World Health Organisation in this? Universal access to prescription drugs is a much debated topic, we need to debate the other side of the coin as well before other countries follow the our lead.

As usual, please leave your comments!

  • Tracey – Life Changing Year

    Those are some freaky statistics? The US consumes 75% of the world’s prescription drugs? I’m amazed. I’ve seen their television adds for drugs and there is a big chunk at the end of each drug advising of all the weird and wonderful side effects you might suffer from taking the particular drug. I’m surprised anyone takes anything there at all – the TV adds are so off-putting. I’m so glad we don’t have them in Australia!

    • Hi Tracey, thanks so much of your comment re ads – I think they have all the disclaimers because the producers are protecting themselves from lawsuits. With one medication per month being recalled there would have to be a lot of issues and some people will get their act together and try to get remedy or compensation. Ulrike

  • I firmly believe that we have come to a time in our culture when we look for a quick solution in a prescription when we should be making better decisions for our health in general. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for using medicine when I am not feeling great or if it will save my life! But there seems to be no balance and with the pharmaceutical industry being a for profit industry there is a complicated balance needed between science, business and community.

    • Good point, there is a place for intervention but we have lost the ability to listen to our own bodies. We are also keeping ourselves alive at all cost and sometimes against the will of the individual in question. Something needs to change!