Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why do you have to take pills if you feel good? Feeling being pushed?

James Le Fanu accuses pharmaceutical companies of fuelling the demand for 'lifestyle’ drugs .

The therapeutic revolution of the post-war years ranks amongst the most impressive of all human achievements. So dramatically successful has been the assault on disease that it is almost impossible to imagine what life was like back in 1945, when there were no drugs for tuberculosis or schizophrenia or rheumatoid arthritis, or indeed for virtually any illness that a doctor encountered; a time before open heart surgery, transplantation and cures for cancer. These and a multitude of similar developments have been of immeasurable benefit in freeing people from the fear of illness and untimely death.

Yet, as Professor Joan Busfield from Exeter University argues – in a paper, “A Pill for Every Ill”, in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine this month – there is something very peculiar going on to account for why, over the past two decades, the Health Service’s drugs bill should have exploded, with little evidence of any measurable improvement in the nation’s heath.

From £4billion a year in the early 1990s, the cost of NHS prescriptions had topped £10billion by 2006, is now in the region of £18billion, and is expected to soar to £24billion by the middle of this decade. During this time, Professor Busfield points out, the average number of prescriptions issued per head of population has doubled to 16 per year. Millions of the healthy young and middle aged seldom see a doctor, so this can only mean that many, especially in the older age group, must currently be taking a fistful of drugs every day.

Read the rest at Telegraph's

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