The United State of America is the most heavily medicated country in the world. With 3.5 billion drugs or more prescribed each year, Americans buy more drugs per person than any other country. About 34% of American adults take at least one prescription drug and 11.5% take 3 or more, according to a 2012 Forbes report. This amounts to around 130 million Americans each month.
The negative side effects of such prevalent drug use are often underestimated. Around 125,000 Americans die each year from drug reactions, according to AP projections. That makes prescription drugs the fourth leading cause of death in America. When considering nonfatal reactions, the numbers are even worse. Hospital patients suffer 10 adverse drug reactions per 100 admissions, meaning that when you enter a hospital you have a 10% chance of such a misadventure. Of these 3.6 million episodes per year, 70% are hard to foresee but 30% are outright mistakes.
Americans spent $307 billion on prescription drugs in 2010. The pharmaceutical industry is massive in America, and deeply intertwined with the physicians who prescribe the medications. Around one fourth of doctors take cash payments from drug or device makers, and two thirds accept routine gifts of food.
NBC News, America: The Land of the Medicated? http://www.nbcnews.com/id/7503122/#.UVrc7VeQsrM
Alter Net, 100,000 Americans Die Each Year from Prescription Drugs, While Pharma Companies Get Rich: http://www.alternet.org/story/147318/100,000_americans_die_each_year_from_prescription_drugs,_while_pharma_companies_get_rich
CNN Money, Fortune 500 Pharmaceutical Companies: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2012/industries/21/
Industry Week, Six Tech Trends That Will Shape the Pharmaceutical Industry in 2013: http://www.industryweek.com/emerging-technologies/six-tech-trends-will-shape-pharmaceutical-industry-2013
CNN Health, More than 1 in 10 in U.S. Take Antidepressants: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/19/more-than-1-in-10-in-u-s-take-antidepressants/
Forbes, How Our Prescription Drug Obsession is Killing Kids: http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2012/05/07/more-kids-are-dying-as-prescription-drug-use-skyrockets/
The New York Times, U.S. to Force Drug Firms to Report Money Paid to Doctors: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/health/policy/us-to-tell-drug-makers-to-disclose-payments-to-doctors.html?pagewanted=all
Forbes, Who Is Popping All Those Pills? http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidmaris/2012/07/24/1-in-3-american-adults-take-prescription-drugs/
Web MD, The 10 Most Prescribed Drugs: http://www.webmd.com/news/20110420/the-10-most-prescribed-drugs