In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported(1) that drug overdoses killed 33,000 people that year. Roughly 10,000 people died in 1990 of the same causes. In 1999, it was 20,000 people. Are you seeing the trend? In 2005, drug deaths were second only to car accidents (44,000 people killed) in the category of accidental deaths.
The category ''drug-induced causes'' includes not only deaths from dependent and nondependent use of either legal or illegal drugs, but also includes poisoning from medically prescribed and other drugs.
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This huge increase in people dying is not because of a heroin or crack epidemic. It's not young black people who are dying either. This increase in deaths is happening in the middle-aged, white demographic. CDC epidemiologist Leonard Paulozzi stated to Congress, "Mortality statistics suggest that these deaths are largely due to the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs." (1a)
If you haven't seen the drug commercials, you are not watching TV. It used to be the majority of commercials were trying to get you to buy a car. That fact may still hold true, but these days you can't get through a set of commercials without being pitched the latest in Restless Leg Syndrome medication, or the best new pill to get you to sleep at night. Here's a tip: Stop being such a stressed out lard ass and get some exercise. Maybe your wife would screw you to sleep if you weren't so repulsive.
Get yourself a Tivo and skip the bullshit. I've never felt better!
We all know about the commercials. But that only accounts for a portion of total spending for marketing pharmaceutical drugs. Big Pharma spends millions on commercial email, online marketing, and print. They will spend $1 billion in 2008 on direct marketing to make a return of $10 billion (3). Now that's profitable!
Despite my best efforts, I cannot find a comprehensive break-down of the total marketing spend of pharmaceutical companies. The best I can do is a study that shows that the, "pharmaceutical industry's drug promotion efforts ... estimate that the industry spent $12.7 billion promoting its products in 1998." (4)
The resulting estimate of $12.7 billion is high not only in absolute terms but in relative terms, Ma noted, as the pharmaceutical industry ranks 34th among the 200 U.S. industries with the largest advertising expenditures.
That was in 1998. The pharmaceutical industry has grown exponentially since then. The commercials have only gotten more rampant. And I thought drugs were so expensive because of Research and Development!
Shouldn't drugs sell themselves? Do you get the feeling that you're being sold these drugs to make you think that you're sick with something, just so you have to spend an insane amount of money per month on prescriptions? If those advertising numbers piss you off, then you might want to check out this article: Big Pharma Money Spent on Marketing Exceeds Drug Development Costs
Are these drugs we're swallowing by the pound effective?
Don't get me wrong. I am not some holistic health nut (although I'd probably live longer if I were). For the sake of disclosure, I do not take any prescriptions drugs. Am I lucky, or do I realize that most of our problems can be prevented or cured with changes to lifestyle?
I do see a place for drugs. Some people get legitimate help from the drugs the take. Some. A good portion of the drugs that make up the multi-billion dollar industry of pharmaceuticals are simply doing nothing, if not making us worse.
A recent study(5) suggests that anti-depressants only work for the severely depressed. If you're one of those halfway depressed souls, then you might as well be taking a sugar pill.
An analysis of the data showed that patients taking antidepressants fared no better than patients receiving a placebo. This appeared to be the case whether the patients were mildly or moderately depressed. The drugs only seemed to benefit a small group of patients -- those with the severest depression when the study began.
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