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A disturbing new study about the overuse of medications

A disturbing study in the Journal of the American Society of Geriatrics concludes that “In 2018, 7.3 billion doses of potentially inappropriate medications were dispensed” to seniors.

And that estimate, I think, is very likely on the low, low side.

Now it’s probably true that Canadian doctors are significantly less likely to give out “inappropriate” meds than our American colleagues, many of whom have a financial incentive to prescribe some drugs, something that is not true up here, and it always pays, of course, to follow the money.

Still, with Canada having roughly 1/10 as many people as the US and A does, it is still very likely that up here Canadian doctors prescribed north of 1 billion “inappropriate” doses of meds to Canadian seniors just 2 years ago.

Why?

Mainly because seniors have lots and lots of conditions and symptoms (I am a senior and I know of what I speak) and it is generally easiest (takes way, way less time in the office, no need to spend extra time to try to figure out what’s going on, etc.) to try to ease symptoms with a prescription than with other modalities.

And since many drugs produce side effects, it’s often easiest as well to try to minimize these side effects with yet another prescription.

Plus, way too many seniors are loathe to talk back to their doctors or to ask many questions about why they really need the drug they have just been prescribed.

And finally, seniors are old, and most doctors are far younger, and you know what that means in terms of really understanding one another.

So even with all the effort that’s been placed in recent years to get doctors to cut back on unnecessary prescriptions, I sincerely doubt that this will get any better yet for a long while, if ever.