Each year, millions of Americans are taking prescription drugs in the hopes of improving their quality of life, but according to some, prescription drugs are killing over 100,000 people every year (Glove & Girion, 2013; Null, 2011; Perdomo, 2010). In 2013 alone, 1,178,306 adverse events were reported to the FDA for drugs and therapeutic biologic devices. That same year, there were 43,982 deaths attributed by the CDC to drug poisoning, including 16,235 deaths (37%) involving opioid analgesics.
According to the centers for disease control and prevention, drug overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1990.
The federal government considers schedule 1 drugs the most dangerous class of drugs with high potential for abuse.
Prescription drug abuse causes the largest percentage of deaths from drug overdosing.
In 2010, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths in the US. 60% were related to pharmaceuticals.
Close to 4 billion prescriptions are written by doctors in the US each year.
The opioid painkiller Hydrocodone is one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States.
Overuse and misuse of this pain reliever has serious side effects including mood swings, severe abdominal pain, difficulty urinating, seizure, and death.
In 2012, 75% of prescription drug overdose deaths in the United States were related to opioid painkillers.
In 17 states, opioid painkillers killed more people than traffic accidents.
Another popular prescription drug is Simvastatin, also known as Zocor. It’s estimated that 2.1 million Americans take Zocor to lower their cholesterol. Serious side effects of this drug include kidney failure, myopathy, liver damage, and death.
In 2011, the FDA announced that Zocor is not safe in high doses due to the increased risk of severe muscle injury.
Some of the other most prescribed drugs in America include Metformin, Amoxicillin, Azithromycin, Lisinopril. The serious possible side effects of these drugs include liver failure, heart attack, pancreatitis, colitis, seizures, and death.
It was revealed that the big pharmaceutical companies knew about the risks and clearly misled the FDA, doctors, and patients to make more money before the patents ran out.
Dangerous side effects and adverse reactions are not the only concerns when it comes to prescription drugs.
1.3 million are injured and nearly 100,000 die each year due to medication errors.
Dr. Perez is a neuropsychologist, statistician and researcher who teaches a variety of courses including psychopharmacology, psychophysiology, pediatric neuropsychology, life span development (and of course research and statistics), to graduate and undergraduate university students. She is head of research and data analyst for Safer-America.