A sick or elderly person could be taking upwards of 30 different prescription drugs, often to treat conditions that could just as easily be managed by lifestyle changes. In all, UK doctors wrote one billion prescriptions last year for conditions such as depression and heart problems, costing the taxpayer lb9 bn.
Prescribing has increased by 55 per cent over the past decade, with the biggest rise in prescriptions for statins, for lowering cholesterol, which have doubled, followed closely by prescriptions for antidepressants, which have risen by 98 per cent.
The trend has been highlighted in a report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which suggests that 20 prescriptions were issued to each person last year.
As many people do not take any prescription medication, the actual numbers given to the sick and elderly will be far above that average. In 2004, the average was 13 prescriptions per person.
The UK is fast becoming a nation of pill pushers, says Katherine Murphy, of the Patients' Association, who believes that prescribing is now "out of control". Instead, doctors should be advocating lifestyle changes, such as an improved diet and exercise.
(Source: Daily Telegraph, July 8, 2015)