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An Rx Overdose

Doctors prescribe medicines too much, some say

Want to wind down? Rev up? Lose weight? Or feel good? Many doctors might try to help you by prescribing a drug.

But some experts say Americans rely too heavily on prescription drugs, instead of common-sense measures such as eating right, getting plenty of sleep, exercising and reducing stress in your lives. That may be, in part, a result of direct-to-consumer advertising of certain drugs, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

A study from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation says that last year, Americans spent $131.9 billion on prescription drugs, 18.8 percent more than in 1999. Of the 2.9 billion prescriptions that were filled in 2000, 30 percent were for the 50 top-selling drugs, which are heavily advertised in magazines, television and other media, the article says. Some experts say overworked doctors don't spend enough time researching new medicines and often just agree with their patients because it's easier to do than argue.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says more than 9 million Americans use prescription drugs for non-medical reasons and 4 million are addicted. "Most people who take prescription medications take them responsibly; however, the non-medical use or abuse of prescription drugs remains a serious public health concern," says Alan I. Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Increased use of certain antidepressants is coming under fire as some say doctors are not evaluating patients adequately before writing out prescriptions. To find out more, you can read this article from Clinical Psychiatry News, published on the International Coalition for Drug Awareness Web site.

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