Among the drugs are an arthritis medication that uses nanotechnology and a migraine medication that selectively blocks transmission of pain signals to the brain.
According to PhRMA:
“In separate reports, PhRMA has found that researchers are working on 299 medicines for heart disease and stroke ... and 98 medicines for lung cancer”.
While it's important to pay greater attention to the differing healthcare needs between men and women, this is probably not the primary incentive behind the watershed increase in drugs being developed specifically for women.
Prescription statistics show that American women use nearly 65 percent more drugs, on average, than men—making them a more lucrative market for the drug companies... According to the featured report, drug- and biotech companies are currently testing or awaiting FDA approval for more than 850 different drugs for diseases that "disproportionately affect American women."
These diseases include:
Breast- and ovarian cancer Arthritis/musculoskeletal disorders Obstetric/gynecologic conditions Autoimmune diseases Depression and anxiety Alzheimer's disease
Researchers are also reportedly working on nearly 300 different drugs for the treatment of heart disease and stroke, and another 98 medicines specifically for lung cancer.
The Rise in Polypharmacy—Are Women at Greater Risk?
Based on drug use statistics, yes. Seniors are also at far greater risk, but anyone taking more than one drug increases their risk of experiencing harmful side effects. The word 'polypharmacy' simply means "many drugs," but refers to instances where an individual is taking too many drugs--either because more drugs are prescribed than clinically indicated, or when the sheer number of pills simply becomes a burden for the patient.
There's no doubt that the US has been manipulated into becoming a "polypharmacy nation." In just one decade, from 1992 to 2002, the number of prescriptions written increased by a whopping 61 percent, and the number of opiate prescriptions increased by almost 400 percent in that same timeframe.
It doesn't have to be this way as my 81 year old father and 76 year old mother both do not take ANY drugs. Whenever they have to go for a conventional medical visit, their providers are always shocked at this fact.
The shock is because this is in stark contrast to the vast majority of the rest of the population. According to the latest statistics from the Kaiser Health Foundation, the average American adult, aged 19 to 64, now takes more than 11 prescription drugs. So while polypharmacy used to be primarily a concern for seniors—who, on average fill more than 31 prescriptions per year—polypharmacy now applies to virtually everyone, including children and toddlers, whose drug use now averages out to four or more drugs per child...
This is a very significant problem that is not getting much attention. I've also heard many stories of concerned patients bringing it up with their doctors, only to be rebuffed. Still, the fact of the matter is that when you mix two or more drugs together, you exponentially increase your chances of suffering serious side effects.
People taking psychiatric drugs appear to be particularly prone to polypharmacy, which is especially disturbing since these drugs are quite potent and potentially dangerous when taken individually.
The Incredible Cost of Polypharmacy
Three years ago, an analysis of federal data by the nonprofit Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) discovered that in the first quarter of 2008, fatalities from adverse drug reactions accounted for 23 percent of all adverse reaction reports!
It's quite likely that this could be due to the exponential increase in polypharmacy. And it should serve as a wakeup call for everyone. We're not talking about headaches and nausea anymore—we're talking about death being reported as the side effect in nearly one out of every four cases...
Excessive drug use is also extremely expensive. First, drugs cost the US health care system nearly one trillion dollars a year. But that's not all. We also spend tens of billions of dollars to treat the side effects of those drugs! So the idea that "more and better drugs" are the answer to our nation's failing health is, from my point of view, clearly misguided.
Are YOU at Risk?
The University of Chicago offers some helpful guidance on the issue of polypharmacy, including risk factors, and signs and symptoms indicating you may be experiencing a side effect of a multiple drug combination.
If you're on a prescription drug, and answer yes to ANY of the questions below, you may be at increased risk of polypharmacy:
- Do you take herbs, vitamins or OTC products?
- Do you have to take medicine more than once a day?
- Do you suffer from arthritis?
- Do you use different pharmacies to fill your prescriptions?
- Do you have poor eyesight or hearing?
- Do you live alone?
- Do you sometimes forget to take your medication?
Another significant problem of polypharmacy is that it leads to... more prescriptions! Yes, the side effects of polypharmacy are oftentimes confused with symptoms of yet another disease or health problem; setting into motion a vicious cycle of decreasing health followed by more prescriptions rather than fewer.
Signs and Symptoms of Potentially Harmful Drug Interactions
Common signs and symptoms that may be indicative of a detrimental interaction between two or more drugs include:
Tiredness, sleepiness or decreased alertness Confusion (chronic or intermittent) Weakness Anxiety or excitability Constipation, diarrhea or incontinence Dizziness and/or falls Tremors Skin rashes Loss of appetite Depression or lack of interest in your usual activities Hallucinations - seeing or hearing things Decreased or altered sexual behavior
Keep in mind that symptoms of drug side effects can occur very quickly after starting a new medication, or it may take awhile. Many factors that can come into play, so do not dismiss new symptoms as unrelated to a drug reaction just because you've been on the drug, or drugs, for a few weeks or even months.
Since there are NO Absolutely Safe Drugs, Who is Really Responsible for Your Health?
If you answer, "I am," then I'm glad—you're getting it.
You are the only one who can be fully responsible for your health. You can choose to believe that this responsibility rests on someone else's shoulders, but at the end of the day, you are the one who has to live with the consequences, for better or worse.
Unfortunately, a majority of people have been successfully brainwashed into thinking that FDA-approved drugs are both safe and effective. This is a tragedy of epic proportions because nothing could be further from the truth.
It's important to understand that even if a drug has gone through unbiased, stringent, long-term testing—which most do NOT undergo prior to approval—you may still experience harmful effects. The drug may interact badly with another drug you're taking or with a food you're eating. Your genetic makeup, metabolism, or the state of your immune system can also cause it to have an unpredictable impact.
Sadly, studies are frequently biased, results are skewed, and drugs are put on a fast-track to be approved long before anyone knows whether they're safe. In essence, taking a drug is a gamble, and there are NO 100 percent safe drugs—not even over-the-counter versions.
Unfortunately, doctors are not likely to change their prescription habits any time soon because that's what they're trained to do. In many cases, writing prescriptions is ALL they do! So as a patient, you have to take it upon yourself to question the drugs prescribed to you.
Some of the most common-sense questions you need to ask before you take any drug include:
- Do I really need it?
- Is it prescribed appropriately, or is it being prescribed for an off-label use?
- What are the side effects? (Both common and uncommon side effects)
- Is it addictive?
- Is it known to interact with any other drugs, supplements, or foods that I'm taking?
Basic Health Strategies Can Address Many Common Health Problems
Viewing drugs as a last resort rather than a first-line defense would go a long way toward changing the current drug paradigm. There are many health conditions that can be prevented or effectively treated with lifestyle changes alone, yet if you go to a typical doctor, you'll walk out with one or more prescriptions.
Know that maintaining good health as you age, without the use of drugs, IS possible. At the age of 57, I am not taking a single drug, and my parents, at 81 and 76 years old, are also both drug free—and in good health; perhaps for that very reason...
Examples of health problems that typically don't require drug intervention include:
What many people fail to realize is that it is possible to maintain optimal health simply by avoiding unnecessary drugs, and embracing the fundamentals of good health, such as:
- Eliminating fructose and most grains
- Eating unprocessed, high-quality foods, organic if possible, right for your nutritional type If you haven’t reviewed my comprehensive free program please do so when you have a moment.
- Getting sufficient amounts of sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D levels
- Consuming enough high quality animal based omega-3 fats
- Exercising regularly