More than a quarter of children and teens in the United States are taking a medication on a regular basis. Close to seven percent are on two or more prescription drugs.
Prescribing medications to children can cause problems; many of them have not had their effects on children researched.
Even in ones that have, the consequences of using them over the course of a lifetime is usually unknown.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
"...[C]hildren and teens are ...taking a wide variety of ...medications once considered only to be for adults, from statins to diabetes pills and sleep drugs, according to figures provided to The Wall Street Journal by IMS Health, a research firm.
Prescriptions for antihypertensives in people age 19 and younger could hit 5.5 million this year if the trend though September continues... Unhealthy diets and lack of exercise among children ...fuel the use of some treatments, such as those for hypertension."
Meanwhile, there's an ongoing discussion about which is more dangerous: alternative medicine or prescription drugs?
A recent survey led found four deaths between 2001 and 2003 that were associated with use of alternative treatments in Australia.
However, according to health and nutrition expert Dr. Gary Null, deaths associated with use of dietary supplements or alternative medicine are extremely rare compared to the death toll from the medical errors and prescription drugs.
Yet despite the well-documented dangers of prescription drugs and a painful recession, drug companies still represent the nation's third most profitable business sector in the U.S.
How do they do that?
At least in part by cheating the government, misrepresenting science, and bribing doctors. Writing in AlterNet, Martha Rosenberg lists 15 ways the drug companies lie, break the law, or risk your health for profit.
Here are a few of them:
- Astroturf Patients
They create fake patient advocacy groups to lobby for drug company interests. These front groups often push the FDA to approve an expensive drug that has acceptable, cheaper alternatives.
- Cheating the Government
Drug companies are a top defrauder of the federal government. They've been hit with $14.8 billion in wrongdoing settlements in the last five years – but that's still cheaper than going about things the legal way.
- Dangerous Trials
Presiding over clinical trials can make a doctor thousands per patient – and sometimes they compromise patient safety just to get at that money.
- Deceptive Trials
Trials that only determine that a drug is "not worse" than another one can skew results. And some research deliberately skewed, with results decided upon before the trial is ever conducted.
To read the other ways in which the drug companies rip you off, see Rosenberg's article.