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Americans Take More Drugs Than Any Other Nation

An April 17, 2005 Associated Press (AP) story printed in several publications reports that Americans are classified as the most medicated population on the planet. Based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 130 million Americans swallow, inject, inhale, infuse, spray and pat on prescription drugs monthly.

As outlined by IMS Health, a pharmaceutical consulting company, in the last decade the application of prescription medications by Americans has grown by 2/3rds to an incredible 3.5 billion prescriptions annually. Additionally, IMS Health reports that their polling finds that Americans devour much more nonprescription drugs. The AP story notes how the consequences for this large usage are grave. The content highlights that landmark medical studies from the 1990s claim that more than 125,000 people die from drug reactions and mistakes every year. They observe that pharmaceuticals will be the fourth-leading national cause of death after heart disease, cancer and stroke. When put into perspective, the amount of medication usage in the US becomes more evident. This article notes Americans spent just as much on drugs this past year as they did for gasoline. As outlined by drug industry consultants the pharmaceutical industry did greater than $250 billion worth of sales a year ago, the great majority in prescription drugs. That translated into $850 for each American. Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor from the New England Journal of Medicine and author of "The Truth About the Drug Companies", commented, "We take far too many drugs for dubious or exaggerated ailments." He continued, "What the drug companies are doing now is promoting drugs for long-term use to essentially healthy people. Why? Because it's the biggest market."

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