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Show 1098: Are You Taking Too Many Prescriptions?

There are risks as well as costs of taking too many prescriptions. Is it time to ask your doctor and your pharmacist to check your meds?
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Are You Taking Too Many Prescriptions?

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Consumer Reports recently had a cover story on “Too Many Meds? America’s Love Affair with Prescription Medication.” It turns out that half of American adults take at least one prescription drug. Actually, the average number of prescriptions is four. That’s a lot more pills than people in other countries, and it is more than we Americans used to take. Are we taking too many prescriptions?

How Can You Tell If You Are Taking Too Many Prescriptions?

Very often, prescriptions start to pile up almost before you notice it. If your sleeping medicine gives you heartburn, you may end up with a prescription to treat that symptom. Sometimes the second medication will then cause symptoms for which the doctor prescribes a different drug. This is one way people end up taking three, four or five different pills.

The problem is that using too many prescriptions increases your risk of side effects. And taking all those different pills means that they may interact with one another. There were more than 1 million emergency department visits due to adverse drug effects in 2014. More than 100,000 people died from those reactions. And, of course, paying for all those pills is also hard on the budget.

National Check Your Meds Day:

That is why Consumer Reports declared October 21st National Check Your Meds Day. They recommend a “brown bag” review of everything you are taking. That means you ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on whether you are taking anything you might not need. Be sure to ask exactly how to discontinue it, if that is the advice. Some drugs should not be stopped abruptly.

Your Calls Are Welcome:

We’ll do our best to answer your questions about too many prescriptions. Tune in Saturday, October 21, 2017, from 7 to 8 AM EDT or call 1-888-472-3366. You can also reach us through email (radio@peoplespharmacy.com) or Twitter @peoplespharmacy.

This Week’s Guest:

Lisa Gill is the deputy content editor of Best Buy Drugs for Consumer Reports. The website is: https://www.consumerreports.org/health/drugs-a-z/best-buy-drugs/index.htm

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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