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Britain a nation of ‘pill poppers’


The average number of prescription drugs issued per patient per year has doubled in the UK over the past two decades, a survey has found.

A paper called A Pill for Every Ill found that prescription drugs are commonly being used to treat almost all types of ailment in Britain.

The country is becoming more like France with its “long-established tradition of taking medicines to heal problems”, author Professor Joan Busfield from Essex University said.

Despite living longer, healthier lives, Britain is becoming a nation of pill poppers, Prof Busfield said in her study which was published in the Social Science & Medicine journal.

Over the past 20 years the average number of prescriptions dispensed per person has increased from eight a year to more than 16.

She said: “I think drugs are being overused. The population is getting healthier and healthier, longevity is increasing, but we are using more and more drugs.”

She accused the pharmaceutical industry of “disease-mongering”, with drug companies now categorising problems such as sexual dysfunction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and high cholesterol as diseases to maximise profits.

Prof Busfield also claimed the industry was controlling science, with trials sponsored by drug companies likely to yield more favourable results.

The report also revealed companies were “intensively marketing” their products to doctors.

Copyright Press Association 2010
University of Essex
Social Science & Medicine Journal


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