Prescribing Trends: Not a Pretty Picture for the Prescription Drug Crisis

Prescribing Trends: Not a Pretty Picture

The harsh reality of the prescription drug crisis is outlined in a must-read paper for all health care clinicians and patients.

By Editorial Staff

From the Annals of Family Medicine1 comes one of the most important studies to date in the effort to define and understand how drug companies are influencing both the practice of medicine and the health of patients who seek care from medical providers.

Conducted by a pair of anthropologists from Michigan State University, the study examines the impact of lower diagnostic thresholds, clinician rewards systems and the prescribing cascade on the health of patients diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension.

The authors lay the foundation for their study by noting, “Spending on prescription drugs in the Unites States has risen nearly 6-fold since 1990, reflecting substantial increases in treatment of chronic conditions and subsequent polypharmacy. As many as 45% of Americans have at least 1 diagnosed chronic condition, and 60% of the most prescribed medications were for hypertension, high cholesterol levels and diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 11% of the US population and 40% of people older than age 60 take 5 medications or more.”

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