I heard a brief report on the radio the other day. They cited a few statistics about drug use and mentioned that their information was extracted from a report published in 2008 by Medco.

Medco is one of the largest mail-order pharmacy providers in the United States. They have ready access to vast amounts of utilization data.
Here are just a few points from that report:

  • Among older Americans ages 65 and up, 28 percent of females and 22 percent of males take five or more chronic medications.
  • Nearly 30 percent of children ages 19 and under take a chronic medication.
  • A majority of the insured U.S. population is being treated for a chronic medical condition, raising serious concerns about the health of the nation.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of women ages 20-44 are being treated for a chronic condition.

I learned that when a person is using three different drugs, their risk of an interaction is in the 80% range. When the number increases to five different drugs, the risk of interaction moves much closer to 100%. The Medco figures are for prescribed drugs. Let’s not forget that there are many drugs available without prescription and there isn’t data about what people are taking.

A day doesn’t go by where we don’t hear about the “Health Care Crisis” in the United States. On the one hand, the discussion is mostly about who will pay for health care – and how they’ll do it. I suggest that a far more important issue is the massive abuse of drugs and the health impact that has on all of us. The cost is not just for the drugs received. It has to also consider the health cost needed to treat people who are suffering from the side effects of the numerous drugs they’re consuming.

Our motto remains, “Too Many People Take Too Many Drugs”. It is dangerous and costly, and the discussion must begin to focus on ways to dramatically lower drug usage.

How many drugs are you on?