The United States’ population has become increasingly dependent on prescription medications for a number of reasons. The amount of money spent each year on prescriptions reflects this dependency. For example, from 1992 to 2021 total expenditures for prescription drugs increased from $47 billion to almost $380 billion. There are some natural reasons for the increase, such as organic population growth as well as shifting demographics and the overall aging of our population. But much of the increase can be attributed to something less natural: the profits generated from medical prescriptions and the ongoing promotion of drugs to drive overall demand and usage.
Medical prescriptions, along with over the counter medications and supplements, offer many benefits and they can help people address a variety of health issues. Unfortunately, not every medication provides a benefit and some could actually be unsafe. As a result, some people can potentially benefit by something called deprescribing.
What is “deprescribing”?
Deprescribing is a process where patients work closely with their health care provider(s) to evaluate all current medications with the goal of reducing or completely discontinuing prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as dietary supplements. Reducing medications is potentially notable. According to a study conducted in January 2023 by the University of Michigan (“National Poll on Healthy Aging”), each week with adults aged 50-82:
- Over 80% take at least one prescription drug or medication
- Over 25% take 3-4 prescription medications
- Nearly 30% take 5 or more prescription medications
- 60% take one or more over-the-counter medications
- Almost 80% take one or more dietary supplement such as vitamins
More alarming: an estimated 50% or more older adults in the United States are prescribed at least one type of medication that will ultimately cause more harm than it does good!
The reality is that in many instances medications that may have once been beneficial, may no longer offer the same benefits now. Seniors are willing to make a change, as 80% of older adults indicate that they would willingly stop taking certain medications if it was approved by their physician or health care provider.
The decision to deprescribe shouldn’t be taken lightly and as with any health issue, physicians and health care providers need to be part of the discussion and solution. Contact your doctor if you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the potential benefits of deprescribing. You may also do some research on your own to get a deeper understanding about deprescribing, by visiting:
U.S. Deprescribing Research Network – https://deprescribingresearch.org/