For nearly half of Americans, prescription medications maintain their health, and in some cases, keep them alive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 50 percent of American use at least one prescription drug a month, 23 percent use three or more medications a month, and 12 percent use more than five. Nationally, 3.7 billion drugs are ordered or provided every year. Analgesics, antihyperlipidemic agents, and antidepressants are the most frequently prescribed.
While many medications help people, they can also lead to very serious health consequences and injuries. Patients are more at risk for issues if they take certain medications for an extended period of time, or if the drug they’re on happens to be defective. When prescription drugs are abused, however, the side effects can be equivalent to those that come with illegal drug use.
Understanding what and why certain prescription drugs are more dangerous than others can help doctors and patients prevent medical emergencies and dependency.
Painkillers are the most commonly prescribed drugs. While the number of people who experience pain has not fluctuated much, the number of people who take pain killers to manage their pain has significantly increased. Analgesics are prescribed so often because they effectively relieve many types of pain. The short-term and long-term side effects vary depending on the person, but nausea, drowsiness, and slowed breathing are common. With long-term used, physical dependency is the biggest issue. Thousands of people die from opioid overdoses every year.
Antidepressants, like Prozac, Lovan, Luvox, Paxil, and Zoloft, change the amount of serotonin in the body and brain. While the medications should be regulating and balancing the levels to positively affect mood, anxiety, and sleep, levels that are too high or low can cause serious problems. If the dosage is incorrect, a patient could continue to experience symptoms of depression. If the dosage is too high, agitation and anxiety are a possibility. If the agitation is constant, this is referred to as a condition called akathisia. Suicidal thoughts, hostility, and violent actions are common.
Blood thinners, like Xarelto, Pradaxa, and Warfarin, can send an unsuspecting patient to the emergency room. It’s estimated by the CDC that nearly 22,000 people have sustained injuries from blood thinning medication; however, it’s likely that number is significantly higher because not every patient makes a report. Possible side effects include weakened blood cells and vessels, and excessive bleeding when cut. In the event someone, for example, is in a serious car accident and sustains a head wound, they could lose a significant amount of blood that they otherwise would not have if not on the medication.
The most common form of diabetes if Type 2, non-insulin dependent diabetes. Medications like Glucotrol are often used to control this type of diabetes by forcing the pancreas to produce insulin. The medication, however, may not be needed and tends to be overprescribed. Glucose levels can generally be controlled by other methods, including diet and exercise. If the medication is not needed and a patient takes it, hypoglycemia, fatigue, and liver damage are possible.
Drugs like Ritalin, Cylert, Dexedrine, and Adderall are taken by people who have attention deficit disorders. These stimulants work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Unlike painkillers, they do not cause physical dependency and are relatively short-acting; however, severe psychological dependency is possible. As a result, anxiety, insomnia, and hostility can manifest. In addition to the side effects of psychological dependency, someone taking these drugs may experience liver failure, a heart attack, suicidal tendencies, and anxiety. The symptoms can occur in children and adults.
It’s no secret that treating cancer is difficult and patients are likely to get sick from their treatments. Chemotherapy drugs, like methotrexate, are prescribed to kill cancer cells. The issue is, however, that the drugs are poisonous and also kill the good cells. Medications like this are also prescribed in severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis. While the drugs can help patients recover from serious illnesses and diseases, the side effects are incredibly dangerous – especially when the medications are used for an extended period of time. The most common symptoms include fetal death, liver toxicity, kidney toxicity, lung disease, congenital abnormalities, and a suppressed immune system.
When someone is injured by a dangerous drug, the consequences can be life-altering. Often times, extensive medical bills and lost wages from time off work are the results. If you feel you’ve been wrongfully harmed by a prescription drug, you have legal options. Our lawyers will work with you to help restore order in your life. Contact us today.
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