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Prescription Drug Stats a Bitter Pill to Swallow

Prescription Drug Stats a Bitter Pill to Swallow
prescription drug stats

We all know Americans pop prescription drugs like M&Ms, butfor what, exactly? According to a new infographic from GOOD andStanford Kay, we’re worrying ourselves sick — and right into the handsof Big Pharma.

The chart details last year’s 10 mostprescribed psych drugs, and it reads like the medicine cabinet of LizaMinnelli. Nine out of 10drugs deal in anxiety, with Xanax, Lexapro, and Ativan leading thepack. Seven treat depression. And nearly all can be taken for multipledisorders.

The numbers here are staggering. Doctors wrote 44million prescriptions for Xanax and 27.7 million for Lexapro. Valium,the least popular on the list, was prescribed 14 million times. Whichmakes you wonder: Are we really so worked up? So sad? Or is somethingelse to blame?

In 2009, the pharmaceutical industry spent $4.5 billion — the budget of asmall country — marketing this stuff (a drop in the bucket, really, when you consider that Americans spend $200 billion a year on prescription meds). The chart doesn’t make thedirect connection, but it stands to reason that the crap we put in ourbodies has everything to do with these ad dollars. Cymbalta launched intothe list of top-10 psychiatric drugs last year, after being 16th in 2008. We’d be surprised if itsTV spots, which air, oh, every other second, don’t have something to do withit.

Here’s themost, um, depressing part: When you tally up all the prescriptions doctors wrote, the figure actually outnumbers the U.S.population. So yeah, we’re over-medicated. Something else to feelanxious about.