Current government estimates suggest that as many as 70 percent of all Americans take prescription drugs on a regular basis. As alarming as this number might sound, it's even more concerning when we take into account how the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has begun expediting the approval of prescription drugs in recent years.
This has lead to many medications making it on the market and into patients' medicine cabinets without undergoing extensive testing to assess the risks associated with taking them.
A recent Journal of the American Medical Association study suggests that the sped up drug approval process has resulted in some 100,000 patient deaths annually. This number is five times the amount of individuals that overdose on either heroin or prescription pain medicines every year.
The researchers argue that those patients who do die after taking prescription drugs generally don't do so because they were inappropriately prescribed by doctors or taken by patients. These patients die after suffering severe, adverse side effects from taking the drug instead.
In fact, although only 100,000 die each year, as many as 2.7 million are hospitalized after having poor reactions to the doctor-prescribed medications they took. Researchers found that older individuals are perhaps most at risk for dying from side effects of prescriptions drugs. They believe that this is the case because they are diagnosed with more chronic conditions and thus end up taking more prescription drugs.
The interaction of the many different drugs they may be prescribed coupled makes them more likely to have adverse reactions to them. Elderly individuals also experience decreased liver and kidney function necessary to metabolize drugs. This contributes to their higher risk of death.
In light of this rush to get drugs to market, the study's authors suggest that patients should try and steer clear of newly approved medications for as long as seven years from their release date. They note that doing so gives drug makers and regulators a chance to assess whether the drug causes adverse reactions or whether it needs a 'black box warning' label.
If your health worsened after you were prescribed a prescription drug, then a Houston pharmaceutical injury attorney can advise you of your right to file a lawsuit against its manufacturer in your case.
Source: U.S. News, "Death by Prescription," Michael Schroeder, accessed Oct. 13, 2017