Pharmaceutical drugs have their place in human health but really only in certain circumstances. We have become a society of pill-poppers, taking prescription (and over-the-counter) medication for everything from a cold to cancer.
The issues with this are many but the most important can be boiled down to two: 1) pharmaceutical drugs mask symptoms—they never cure the basic problem—and 2) they often come with many side effects.
From Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics:
“Few people know that new prescription drugs have a 1 in 5 chance of causing serious reactions after they have been approved… Few know that systematic reviews of hospital charts found that even properly prescribed drugs (aside from misprespcribing, overdosing, or self-prescribing) cause about 1.9 million hospitalizations a year. Another 840,000 hospitalized patients are given drugs that cause serious adverse reactions for a total of 2.74 million serious adverse drug reactions. About 128,000 people die from drugs prescribed to them. This makes prescription drugs a major health risk, ranking 4th with stroke as a leading cause of death. The European Commission estimates that adverse reactions from prescription drugs cause 200,000 deaths; so together, about 328,000 patients in the U.S. and Europe die from prescription drugs each year. The FDA does not acknowledge these facts and instead gathers a small fraction of the cases.” (1)
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016 75.2% of all doctor visits resulted in patients walking out with a prescription. It then comes as no surprise that 48.9% of Americans are on at least one drug, 23.1% take at least three, and 11.9% regularly use five or more. The most frequently prescribed drugs are analgesics, antidepressants, antidiabetics, and antihyperlipidemic agents (for cholesterol management). (2)
And then there’s cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that $87.8 billion was spent in 2014 on cancer-related therapy, of which 12% ($10.5 billion) was for prescribed medicine. (3) It’s anticipated that almost 1.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2017. (4)
Do Pharmaceutical Drugs Make Us Healthier? Hardly.
With all the drugs we’re taking, chronic illness has been increasing for every demographic for decades. This includes cancer, diabetes, various autoimmune diseases, asthma and respiratory illness, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. (5-14)
It follows from these statistics that these prescription medications are not curing our physical problems and that some, in fact, are causing them. The risk of dying from prescription drugs is higher than from lung cancer, breast cancer, stroke, prostate cancer, and diabetes COMBINED. (15)