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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

 

From The Wall Street Journal:

Nearly two out of three Americans don’t follow their doctor’s orders properly when taking prescription drugs, neglecting to take their medications or seeking out pills that weren’t intended for them, according to new research.

The findings point to the nation’s growing problem with prescription-drug abuse, according to Quest Diagnostics, which analyzed nearly 76,000 urine samples submitted last year from doctors’ offices and Quest’s patient-service centers. Results were matched with physicians’ records of the drugs prescribed for each patient. Subjects remained anonymous and results from patients of drug-rehabilitation clinics weren’t included.

The results indicated 63% of people on prescription drugs strayed from their doctor’s orders, Quest says, and many of the drugs found were painkillers, sedatives or amphetamines that weren’t prescribed for the sampled patient. Researchers tested for 26 commonly prescribed and abused medications and for illegal drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine. Samples were taken from 46 states and the District of Columbia.

“People have such tremendous access to very powerful prescription drugs,” Jon R. Cohen, Quest’s chief medical officer, tells the Health Blog.

Of the people that didn’t follow their doctors’ orders, two in five weren’t taking any medications even though they had been prescribed, suggesting some people can’t afford them, skip treatments or even divert them to the black market, Quest says. The remaining 60% of misusers were taking medications that weren’t prescribed by their doctors.

Many people also combined drugs without a doctor’s oversight, which is dangerous because of how some medications can interact with each other, Cohen says. Results of misuse were consistent across income levels, gender and the level of health coverage, he adds. One limitation of the study, it notes, is that some patients may have been tested because their doctors suspected misuse. Others were randomly selected.

Health officials have said enough painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every U.S. adult around the clock for the month. The abundance of prescription painkillers — obtained, in many cases, by swiping pills from a medicine cabinet, rather bought at the street level — helps explain the high level of misuse, says Robert Stutman, a former Drug Enforcement Administration official who consulted with Quest on the project.

Americans “don’t inherently throw our pills away, so they sit in a medicine cabinet, unused,” Stutman says.

Link to The Wall Street Journal.

Question: How many of you have prescriptions which a doctor or dentist prescribed that you later discovered can interact with each other in negative ways?

Answer: I have several that I'm not sure my doctor and/or dentist even considered when prescribing new ones.

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