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A Prescription for Excess?

More Americans now seek, and take, specific and multiple medications

If you think Americans are relying more and more on prescription drugs to cure what ails them, a Washington Post story carried by MSNBC shows just how right you are.

The story, based on a government survey of a representative sample of doctors' offices, says that in 1999 doctors were much more likely to give patients more than one prescription than they were in 1985. The story notes that about the same percentage of patients were likely to get a prescription, but that the number of multiple medications given out had skyrocketed.

Claritin, for allergies, was the most frequently prescribed medication, while drugs for heart, kidney and circulatory problems also were in great demand.

Experts attribute the rise to several factors. First, there are more medications available that work better. Second, the advertising of drugs has spurred patients to ask for specific medications, rather than let their physician decide the best course of action, according to this USA TODAY story.

A story in the Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times explains why some doctors have been angered by patients asking for brand-name drugs.

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