Mass medication and the real choice to be made

Last week, a report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre was published. It was widely reported by the media with the headline “Nearly 50% take prescription drugs”.

The figures were startling: 16% of men and 12% of women are taking medication to impair their body’s production of cholesterol; 14% of men and 15% of women are taking drugs to lower blood pressure, with every likelihood that their blood pressure is entirely normal. 8% of men and 12% of women are taking painkillers, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pills; 8% of men and 6% of women are taking aspirin. These types of painkillers can damage the lining of the stomach, which can require stomach acid medication and indeed 9% of men and 10% of women are taking antacids. It’s not difficult to see how polypharmacy develops: More than a fifth of men and nearly a quarter of women are taking at least three prescriptions.

All of this costs the NHS £15 billion, at a time when we hear daily of the challenges faced by our health service and the free-at-point-of-service institution being close to collapse due to inadequate funding. One can’t help but think – stop medicating healthy people and save the money for those who really need it and everyone would be much better off...


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