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More than half of us now regularly take a prescription medication—four, on average—according to a new nationally representative Consumer Reports survey of 1, adults. Many in that group also take over-the-counter drugs as well as vitamins and other dietary supplements. The amount of harm stemming from inappropriate prescription medication is staggering. Almost 1. Other research suggests that up to half of those events were preventable. All of that bad medicine is costly, too.

Our previous surveys have found that higher drug costs—including more expensive drugs and higher out-of-pocket costs—also strain household budgets, with many people telling us they had to cut back on groceries or delay paying other bills to pay for their prescriptions. Taking too many drugs. Nicole Lamber of Williamsburg, Va. Jeff Goehring of Waukesha, Wis. Taking drugs prematurely. Diane McKenzie from Alsip, Ill. But McKenzie found that losing weight controlled her blood sugar levels without drugs. Still, many Americans—and their physicians—have come to think that every symptom, every hint of disease requires a drug, says Vinay Prasad, M.

To investigate this growing problem and to help you manage your drugs, we sought expert advice on how to work with doctors and pharmacists to analyze your drug regimen. We reviewed the drug lists submitted by 20 Consumer Reports readers to see whether we could find problems, and alerted them when we did.

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We also dispatched 10 secret shoppers to 45 drugstores across the U. Within a few months, Lamber, who is now 38, was depressed, even suicidal. Over the next five years, Lamber says she saw a series of doctors who prescribed more and more drugs: the ADHD medication Adderall to lift her mood and help her focus; another to counter the side effects of that drug; others to improve her appetite and help her sleep; and when her anxiety worsened, another sedative.

None of them questioned my list of meds. And in our survey, over a third of people 55 and older were taking that many drugs; 9 percent were taking more than But as the number of drugs piles up, so does the need for caution. Poor communication between providers often contributes to drug errors, says Michael Steinman, M. And seeing more than one doctor is now the norm: 53 percent of those in our survey taking prescription medications said they received them from two or more providers.

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Potentially harmful prescribing is all too common, says Steven Chen, Pharm. Of the 20 lists he reviewed, only two received a clean bill of health. Among the other 18, Chen identified 38 potential problems, half of which he considered serious. For Lamber, it meant finding a doctor who was willing to help. Today, while some side effects linger, she says she feels lucky to be alive. Jeff Goehring, now 55, ran a busy deli and snow-plowing business in when he says he started feeling more tired than usual. He decided to see a doctor who, he says, prescribed AndroGel, a drug containing the male hormone testosterone.

And companies got a lot of bang for their advertising buck. His stroke, he says, still impairs his short-term memory and has left one of his hands partially numb, forcing him to close his deli. Concerned about developing the full-blown disease, McKenzie, then 44, agreed to take it. But almost immediately, she began to suffer from diarrhea and vomiting, known side effects.

The Ultimate Prescription

Catching disease early, of course, can be a good thing if it helps you address a problem before it leads to serious harm. After a few months, they were so intolerable she stopped taking metformin. Research actually supports that approach. And the side effects of exercise and a healthy diet are other health benefits, not diarrhea and vomiting. McKenzie decided to make lifestyle changes to lower her blood sugar. Key to her success, she believes, is the stray puppy she adopted, who motivated her to take long daily walks, helping her lose 70 pounds.

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Ranit Mishori, M. Another doctor who de-prescribes is Victoria Sweet, M. Some groups are trying to help that approach go mainstream. Through the Choosing Wisely initiative Consumer Reports is a partner , more than two dozen medical organizations have made recommendations that involve dialing back the use of unneeded drugs.

And some medical organizations, such as the American College of Physicians, now advise doctors to try nondrug approaches first for certain conditions. I would give anything to go back to before my injury, which was spontaneous I might add, and live a for filling life, even though my asthma gives me a heck of a lot of trouble, all the time. I have constant pain if I don't have pain medication that is appropriate for my pain. I am losing faith in doctors and all the medical society because of this misconception of me being a "doctor shopper", I was absolutely devastated when the doctor at the ED informed me of this because all I want is relief from my pain.

But then again, to the standards of this website, I will probably be seen as just trying to "tell a story of misery to make it hard for doctors to say no". Writing this makes me so upset that I feel I will never receive the right help ever again. My doctor retired, and then the government stepped in to make it harder for doctors to prescribe it, by warning them that they could loose their right to prescribe S8 dangerous drugs of dependance.

In fact one doctor did just that, at the same practice l go to, but that was because he was seeing patients from a doctor that was on holidays for 6 weeks, as well as his own, resulting in way too many prescriptions for this class of drugs. So it wasnt because of the actual prescribing, it was the quantitiy of patients, that brought him down. He had actually boasted to me, that he had over patients a week to see.

So this was just greed, and consequently, he got the appropriate punishment in my opinion. He now has to be supervised in his room, and cannot prescribe at all, any strong pain medication.

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This has frightened off all the other 10 doctors, who are now actively trying to get patients off these drugs. But my question is, what about the patients who genuinly need these medications for their injuries, and who are leading a less a quality of life because of the reductions that we now have to go through to lower doses, then eventually off the medication totally. The government might be trying to get, the way too many patients off opioid medications, using this method of frighting doctors future, but it does nothing to solve the genuine patients. I do not get any uforia, or high on these drugs, just a reduction in pain, so l dont feel addicted.

I actually volunteered to go from oxycodiene to targins, as they are less addictive, and do not block you up like the oxys do. Im pissed off that l am a victim of the governments drive to get people off these drugs, and am caught in a system, ,that does not think of the patient anymore. We are now all tainted with the brush of addiction, and therefore must be making up our pain, according to most GPs who are just suspicious of you now.

I even volunteered to go to a pain management place, in the mean time, but now l cant get out much, due to the reduction of the meds. I also need a triple arthridesis on my R ankle, that gives me additional pain.

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I have mountains of CT scan results, and reports telling the story, and still l "need to be reduced off targins completely" is the aim of my current doctor. I have been going to the same surgery for over 10 years now, and so they all know me well, and know that l am not putting on an act. I am caught in a cycle, and just want my meds restored to their proper levels.

This government is cruel on the middle, and late aged patients, l am 57 years old. Is thjs happening tk other patients throughout australia, Thankyou for reading my story. I am not being prescribed anything for my chronic pain after my authorised GP had to go on immediate personal leave for over a month. I presented to emergency and although it was the same department seeing me different drs writing prescriptions after a physical examination that warrented pain relief needed got me flagged me as a "shopper".

How utterly mortifying. I have no help. My gp has not offered any solutions and went as far to call her insurance provider. The suffers are not those who abuse the drug, but the ones benifiting from the theapy. Completely agreed with all the previous comments. I am 30 years old and have suffered with chronic TMJ since I was 9 years old. Since then I have visited over 10 general practitioners, 2 naturopaths, had 3 years of remedial massage therapy, 6 months of acupuncture and yet I still sit here in constant pain. The funny thing is, my GP finally prescribed me some pain relief, hallelujah I said.

A box of panadiene forte later and I finally had a week of minimal pain and was able to feel like my life could be somewhat normal. I could work again, I could do things and actually enjoy them. I should be allowed to do what I want with my body. I had previously been prescribed this medication by a GP in another locality. I made an appointment at the local surgery and was seen to by a young registrar. To put it bluntly I would hate to be in a position of chronic pain.

The reaction I received was totally in the interest of the young GP and not in the best interest of the client.