Report – Medication Overload: How the Drive to Prescribe Is Harming Older Americans


From the Lown Institute: “The United States is in the grips of an unseen epidemic of harm from the excessive prescribing of medications. If nothing is done to change current practices, medication overload will lead to the premature deaths of 150,000 older Americans over the next decade and reduce the quality of life for millions more.

Focusing on reducing inappropriate or unnecessary medications could save as much as $62 billion over the next decade in unnecessary hospitalization for older adults alone.

Scope of Medication Overload

Every day, 750 older people living in the United States (age 65 and older) are hospitalized due to serious side effects from one or more medications. Over the last decade, older people sought medical treatment more than 35 million times for adverse drug events, and there were more than 2 million hospital admissions.

The prescribing of multiple medications to individual patients (called ‘polypharmacy’ in the scientific literature) has reached epidemic proportions. More than four in ten older adults take five or more prescription medications a day, an increase of 300 percent over the past two decades. Nearly 20 percent take ten drugs or more.”

Report →


  1. This came out in 1999, I think.

    It starts:

    “This fully referenced report shows the number of people having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs to be 2.2 million per year. The number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections is 20 million per year. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million per year. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million per year.
    The most stunning statistic, however, is that the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year. It is now evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US.”

    But the medical industry keeps getting worse and worse, instead of better, no doubt due to greed. I guess it’s good people are talking about it, but how many decades until real change occurs? It’s the system that’s the problem. We need to somehow change medicine into an industry that only gets paid if they make people better, and end the medical system that financially encourages doctors to make people sick for profit.

    Report comment

  2. Not anti-allopathy. BUT…when we consider how every medicine works by overriding basic bodily systems (except for supplements) shouldn’t more doctors practice minimalism in how they prescribe things?

    At least with antibiotics you only take them for 10 days. But when it comes to long term drugs, physicians should be especially careful.

    Report comment