Overprescribing medicine is the result of social problems, not health issues

New figures published on the rapid increase in prescribing in recent years are staggering. GPs need access to timely alternative treatments and resources, not just pills and drugs, writes Ian Hamilton

Wednesday 22 September 2021 11:01
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<p>‘A new report has found that 20 per cent of all hospital admissions in those aged over 65 are due to the adverse effects of prescribing medicines’ </p>

‘A new report has found that 20 per cent of all hospital admissions in those aged over 65 are due to the adverse effects of prescribing medicines’

There is no doubt that modern medicine has transformed our health and improved the lives of millions. Decades have been added to life expectancy over the last century due, in no small part, to medicines used in the management of coronary heart disease and cancer. However, as a new government report suggests, there are problems with the rapid increase in prescribing in recent years.

The figures published in the report are staggering and worrying. An estimated 10 per cent of medicines prescribed in primary care are unnecessary. Ten per cent may not sound much but, given the millions of prescriptions issued every year, the waste and cost will also be in the millions. But it's about much more than just economic waste, every medicine has risks as well as benefits. This is made clear in the report. The authors point out that 20 per cent of all hospital admissions in those aged over 65 are due to the adverse effects of prescribing medicines. This not only kills some of these older people but leaves many with added health complications that they will endure for the rest of their lives.

We all know the pressure that hospitals are under due to the pandemic and how limited capacity is, so having significant numbers of people admitted due to an avoidable factor is an avoidable problem.

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