The other side of high drug costs

High drug prices have been a hot topic in politics recently, but there’s another reason that our country spends so much on drug costs: we’re taking too many medications. As Shannon Brownlee and Judith Garber write in an op-ed in STAT, the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t just raise prices to maximize profits, but also works to increase Americans’ consumption of medications. And it’s not just increasing drug costs, it’s causing physical harm to millions of people.

As the Lown Institute reports in the new paper, Medication Overload: America’s Other Drug Problem, older adults in the U.S. are taking far more medications now than in past decades. At the same time, the number of adverse drug events in this age group has skyrocketed. Medication overload has reached epidemic proportions, affecting ten million older Americans each year.

How does the pharmaceutical industry drive medication overload? It goes far beyond direct-to-consumer advertisements, write Brownlee and Garber. Read the full op-ed at STAT here!