Friday, 2 April 2010

A nation of pill poppers - article in Mail - highlights problem of over prescribing


The NHS spent a staggering £22million a day on prescription drugs in England in 2006, a 60 per cent rise in real terms on a decade earlier.
We each pick up more than 16 prescriptions a year on average, twice as many as 20 years ago, Department of Health data reveals.

More than 50million prescriptions were written for cholesterol-busting statins in 2008, an 80 per cent rise on just four years earlier.
And more than 10,000 prescriptions a week are written for anti-hyperactivity drugs.

These facts are highlighted by Professor Joan Busfield, from Essex University, who is concerned about over prescribing and pharmaceutical industry use of ‘disease mongering’ and the re-writing of the Medical dictionary the DSM. More from her paper A Pill For Every Ill, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine are highlighted in the Daily Mail article 29 March 2010.


Statins and drugs for hyperactivity or ADHD diagnosis are all linked to depression and suicide, so of particular concern to APRIL charity.

Inappropriate prescribing and lack of knowledge of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is leading to untold misery, long term ill health (iatrogenic illness) and avoidable deaths. I am faced with stories on a daily basis. Recent communications and meetings I have had with parents and sufferers have disclosed the following sad cases:

o A girl who had a stroke cause by blood clot while taking the acne drug, also used as a contraceptive that I have campaigned about. I have begged the Medicines Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to issue warnings to doctors that the drug causes depression in girls with no history of depression. Licensed for short term use for acne the drug is often prescribed for years as a contraceptive in spite of warnings (years ago) from the regulator that the risk of thrombosis is high for this drug. The reason I am not putting the name (easily found on the APRIL web site) is that the web site was hacked and brought down recently and I do not want to risk any problems.

o A mother grieving for the loss of her son who was over prescribed hundreds of morphine based pain killers, addicted and distressed, he took his own life. The consultant who was treating him for Ulcerative Colitis complications had not been informed by the GP of what he was prescribing to the patient. This highlights what I found at the inquest of Angela Lee, (see blog Oct 2009) that health professionals do not communicate with each other regarding patients being seen by more than one doctor or therapist.

o A mother told me her son killed himself after being prescribed an SSRI antidepressant. He took this for a few days and became worse, so complained to his GP. The doctor told him to double the dose and 4 hours after doing this he killed himself.

o A lady who had been addicted to tranquilisers (benzodiazepines) for 25 years had finally managed to come off the drugs with the help of Pam Armstrong who runs a support group in Liverpool. Her doctor had prescribed a drug recently assuring her it was not addictive. When I did the necessary research, I found it was an addictive drug. This highlights the need for patients to be vigilant and not to assume the doctor knows best. Pharmacology has not been an exam subject since 1993 for medical students, be warned!

o A lady was suffering from severe head aches and had not told her doctor this is since being prescribed drugs for high blood pressure. It is essential to return to the doctor if one develops new symptoms after taking any medicines.
Early warning sign of intolerance to drugs, if acted upon may prevent even more serious consequences.

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