A Hidden Pandemic: Prescription Related Illness

While consistently proven yet kept silent from the public, the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice recently publishing their findings on the pandemic of prescription related illness.


Poignantly stated in the abstract is a powerful statement by its author, Dr. Hugh McGavock, MD: “Prescribed drugs are now a major cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly in the elderly.”


The extent of this pandemic is described and its likely causes in primary care are
further identified by Dr. McGavock, MD:

  • unnecessary prescribing
  • imprecise diagnosis
  • inadequate undergraduate and postgraduate education in pharmacology and therapeutics
  • the uncritical application of evidence-based medicine
  • the outstanding development of new drugs and their sometimes unjustified promotion


What the study points out that is especially troubling is the data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey of Prescription-Related Illness in the US:

  1. Costs more than $1 billion per year.
  2. Causes more than 100,000 deaths per year.
  3. Causes more than 12% of elderly hospitalizations per year.


The author then breaks down the four most common categories of prescribed drugs per doctor visit:

prescription drugsChildren, 0–5 years

  1. Antibiotics 20%
  2. Analgesics [i.e. Tylenol] 18%
  3. Topical skin preparations 13%
  4. Beta-2 agonists [i.e. for asthma] 4%

Women, 15–44 years

  1. Antibiotics 7%
  2. Oral contraceptives 7%
  3. Analgesics [i.e. Tylenol] 5%
  4. NSAIDs 3%

Men, 15–44 years

  1. Antibiotics 10%
  2. Analgesics [i.e. Tylenol] 7%
  3. Beta-2 agonists [i.e. for asthma] 5%
  4. NSAIDs 4%


The author then states that certain drugs are given with “a presumptive diagnosis” “or more honestly, a guess.” The author then notes that these drugs have “many side-effects and the potential for interaction with other drugs.”

  • Penicillins
  • Other oral antimicrobials
  • Peripheral vasodilators
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Histamine-2 antagonists
  • Topical skin preparations
  • Anxiolytics
  • Neuroleptics
  • Antimicrobial eye preparations
  • Vaginal preparations
  • Antihistamines
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

“In all of these often-presumptive prescriptions, the doctor is subjecting the patient to measurable risk of iatrogenic disease, without the certainty of benefit.”

Many drugs are prescribed with no expectation of improving the underlying condition, but with the hope of symptom relief and placebo effect.  Worse yet, single drugs that are indicated for single conditions can increase the likelihood of a serious adverse drug reaction to over 80% when prescribed in polypharmacy.

If you are currently taking prescription medication, or know someone that does, and would like to get a second opinion with a chiropractor in Augusta GA to find out if treatments such as chiropractic may be beneficial for you, you can schedule a complimentary consultation at Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic.  Our complimentary consultations are an integral part of our patient experience here, and our goal is to make sure that you, not some other third-party company, remains in control of your healthcare.


The Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic Blog is written by Dr. Mark Huntsman.

Augusta GA Chiropractor Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic provides customized chiropractic care to the Augusta GA, Martinez GA, and Evans GA communities. Visit our main website at www.georgia-clinic.com for customized chiropractic in Augusta GA.

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