Why Should I Be Concerned About Drug Side Effects?
An adverse drug reaction is nearly 5 times more likely to kill you than an automobile accident or AIDS.
Updated April 2, 2018
FACT 1: Prescription drug reactions cause more than two million hospital admissions—every year in America.
FACT 2: More than 180,000 American patients die every year from taking their medications.
FACT 3: Prescription medication use is the third leading cause of death in America— dwarfing automobile accidents, AIDS, alcohol and illegal drug abuse, infectious disease, diabetes, and murder.
SOURCES of Data: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), see refs below.
A group of doctors at the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) analyzed thirty years of details about adverse drug reactions documented in U.S. hospitals. Using very conservative analysis and excluding all questionable cases, in an effort to be as accurate as possible, the doctor-researchers found that more than 2.2 million Americans require hospitalization in one year because of serious reactions to medications. Even more disturbing was that more than 106,000 patients die per year because of properly prescribed drugs.
“Thousands of patients die each year taking medication for minor medical problems.”
Now it gets worse. When you include both properly and improperly prescribed drugs, more than 180,000 American patients die every year from taking their medications.
Specifically, the JAMA report shows that ‘adverse drug events’ cause more than 180,000 deaths in America each year. Adverse drug events include both properly prescribed and improperly prescribed medications. Improper prescription events include both physician and patient errors, like prescription of the wrong drug, wrong dose, or wrong patient.
“Because of the inherent nature and risk of drugs, absolutely no drug is ever completely safe.”
What does this mean for you? You and your loved ones are nearly five times more likely to die from a prescription drug than a car accident.
What can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones? Learn all you can about the use and inherent dangers of drugs. Many drug reactions are preventable if you learn to ask the right questions to your doctor and pharmacist, as discussed next, see: Stop Side Effects Before They Start.
Many think methylphenidate (Ritalin) is safe, or mild, because so many children use it. However, the government classifies the psychoactive drug with cocaine and morphine because it's highly addictive. [More]
Whether you know it or not, if you have purchased newly released drugs or have taken free samples of medication, you, too, are part of the great ongoing clinical trial. Find out why the hottest drugs may be the most toxic. [More]
If over-the-counter drugs were dangerous, the FDA would never allow them to be sold without a prescription, right? Not exactly. Almost all OTC medications were at one time prescription drugs and have inherent risks of adverse reactions like any prescription. [More]
“It’s the holy grail that every drug company tries to achieve,” according to a former director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Federal drug agency who said: “One-dose-fits-all is a marketing myth.” [More]
Strand, R.D. Death by Prescription: The Shocking Truth Behind an Overmedicated Nation. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003.
Wood A.J.J. “The safety of new medicines; The importance of asking the right questions” JAMA editorial, 281 (1999):1753-1754.
Lazarou J., et al. “Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of
prospective studies.” JAMA 279 (1998):1200-1205.
Strand, R.D. Death by Prescription: The Shocking Truth Behind an Overmedicated Nation. Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2003.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/DataStatistics/.
Cohen, J.S. Over Dose: The Case Against the Drug Companies: Prescription Drugs, Side Effects, and Your Health. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 2001.
Willman, D. “How a New Policy Led to Seven Deadly Drugs,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 20, 2000 (front page).
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This website is for general information purposes only. Statements and excerpts from research literature are provided solely as a forum for commentary and specifically not as health or medical advice. Only your physician should diagnose your health problem and prescribe treatment. DO NOT CHANGE OR STOP TAKING MEDICATION BASED ON INFORMATION YOU READ AT THIS WEBSITE. If you have a question about a drug, or if you think you are experiencing a drug's side effect, consult with your doctor.