The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


May 28, 2010

America's Most Popular Prescription Drugs

Rebecca's Side:

I don't think it's a secret that I don't trust the pharmaceutical companies or immediately accept a doctors prescription as the best medicine. As I've aged I've discovered that these drugs are not always for my best interest and have experienced first hand the effects of narcotics on a family, while the physician continued to prescribe, with no accountability. I am often surprised to find much of the general public do not question or investigate drugs released for the market and pushed, especially for our children -(i.e. H1N1 vaccine w/mercury, pushed very hard to the public with fear advertising tactics & much of the vaccine given here in WA proved to be impotent anyway so mercury was injected into children in the chaos of the public "crisis" to "protect" ourselves). Don't get me started.

If you spend even an hour or so researching addiction, you will find we are living in a period of time where addiction is rampant and prescription pain medication deaths have superseded motor vehicle deaths. If you should see tin foil on the floor of a teenagers car, it could be the remnants of the new way to smoke Oxycontin. Look for Sharpie appearing black lines across the tin foil. They suck the coating off the drugs & then heat the drug up with a match under the tin foil and inhale the fumes with a straw. As the pill pushes across the tin foil, it creates a thick black "snail trail". This is only one of the new drug uses the street drug market have developed for us and our children. Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet.. etc all have a great street value. Meth - creates a feeling of orgasm in the stomach. The study of the effects of sexual contact on a brain shows that it creates a pattern between the neurotransmitters in the brain. The brain feeds off those connections. Craves more. Meth produces this feeling, which is why it's highly addictive. Combined with being incredibly cheap to produce, it's become a new drug of choice. Marijuana - 20 years ago, 10 years ago, it used to take an entire joint to get high. Today's Marijuana, 2 puffs and the user has the desired effect. It's not the 60's our parents parents worried about. It's not just the cars & planes & life that has sped up. The drug industry - legal & illegal - is trying to keep up as well, with faster ways to hook us and our children at younger ages. And, yes, at times, drugs are given to the public with a little bit of testing and the consequences are not realized for a decade afterwards. This is common sense people. And we are sheep for the herding.

Doctors receive these medications from companies that are driven by sales. Not by our health, but by their billion dollar industry. Since this is an area of interest for us, I have made an effort to educate myself to protect our children and ourselves. I recently took McKenna to urgent care for a migraine. We were hearded in & out like a cattle drive. The doctor readily handed us a prescription for Tylenol with Codeine. Now many of you are going to think so what? but this is a 14 year old girl who, the last thing she needs, is the introduction of an opiate drug. Later her pediatrician commended me for my decision and gave me a plan to treat her migraines with non addictive meds. This should be the first step for anyone, especially for a child. Especially for a teenager who's brain is in the most important part of developing! Drugs wreak havoc with the developing adolescent brain, of which if it is stunted, there is not a recovery of the lost development.

I am not saying pain medications don't have their uses. They do and I've used them after having a C-Section, oral surgery. I am saying that they are highly addictive. An alcoholic doesn't become an alcoholic with the first drink. It takes time, repeated exposure that creates a need physically, mentally for the substance. Unfortunately, I think we can all realize the age alot of substance abuse starts. Adolescence. The hook sets in early on during that formative part of development. And it is highly effective. Some of these drugs like Meth & Heroine are addictive from the first use (Meth has surpassed Heroine use due to it's availability, ease to make & affordability). One try and the user, the KID, is hooked. One doesn't think about the tens of thousands of dollars rehab can cost. Or the actual % of people that actually rehabilitate. The last statistic I heard was 5%. Staggeringly low. Creates a feeling of hopelessness, should one become addicted or have a loved one hooked.

This is not a game we are playing with ourselves or our kids. Yet media and the industries profiting off of our use would have us believe it's no big deal. So I encourage you to arm yourselves with knowledge & protect yourself, protect the next generation from being manipulated to addiction. From allowing someone else or some substance to control their developing minds. (this includes the internet, media, entertainment, all things that effect our brain connectivity, but that's another blog...).

So here's MSN's article today on the top 5 prescribed drugs today. # 1 - Vicodin.

A narcotic painkiller tops Forbes' list of the most prescribed medicines.
By Matthew Herper, Forbes

The most popular medicine in the U.S. was prescribed 128 million times last year, even as a panel of experts called together by the Food and Drug Administration recommended that regulators ban it.

The drug is Vicodin, a 40-year-old addictive medicine that combines the narcotic hydrocodone with acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol; the prescription tally also includes numerous generic versions. It is emblematic of the trend that emerges from our look at the most popular prescription pills: the death of the blockbuster drug.

Forbes' list of the 15 most popular drugs comes from IMS Health, a company that tracks sales at the pharmacy level for drug companies. The list shows how medicine makers are rapidly losing their grip on the average consumer. Only one drug in the top 15, Pfizer's Lipitor, is a big-selling brand-name medication. The rest are cheap generic versions of one-time big sellers that have lost their patent protection and become commodities. Generic copies of Vicodin go for 30 cents a pill, compared to $4 per pill for Lipitor.

Vicodin is a drug that is crying out to be replaced. Vicodin has a supporting role on the television show House, M.D. because the protagonist, a Sherlock Holmes-like doctor, is hooked on it. It is particularly dangerous because when patients develop a tolerance for the narcotic they start taking too much. This can lead to liver failure from overdoses of the acetaminophen component of the combo. Most of the 400 deaths due to acetaminophen poisoning each year result from misuse of the Vicodin or similar drugs. Last June an FDA advisory panel recommended banning Vicodin. The FDA is still deciding whether to take this advice.

"People are taking this as if they're taking a strong Tylenol," says Michel Dubois, director of pain medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center. There's nothing wrong with Vicodin after a surgery or tooth extraction, he says, but it's being used too often by primary care physicians with "minimal training" in dealing with chronic pain. "It has been trivialized, and it's wrong to trivialize this strong a pain medication," he says.

The failure to replace Vicodin is not for lack of trying. Pfizer once hoped its painkiller Bextra could be an alternative. But in 2005 Bextra, a chemical cousin of Merck's Vioxx pill, was pulled from the market because it increased the risk of heart attacks and allergic skin reactions. Pfizer paid a $1.2 billion criminal fine last year for marketing Bextra for unapproved uses like dental pain. Other efforts to replace Vicodin have come up short. Vicodin-maker Abbott Laboratories worked for years on a delayed release formulation but has not been able to get it through the FDA.

The second most popular drug in the U.S. is generic Zocor, or simvastatin. The cholesterol-lowering drug was once Merck's biggest seller, but Merck lost its patent protection in 2006. Doctors prescribed it 83 million times last year. One reason: It is proven to save lives, and it costs only $1 a pill, far less than Lipitor.

Zocor used to play second fiddle to Lipitor but became more popular after it went generic and health insurers pushed it as a cheaper option. Merck, Pfizer and others tried to develop new types of cholesterol drugs with little success; the cholesterol drug market is now dominated by generics.

Lipitor still wracks up $7.5 billion in annual sales, more than any other drug but only ranks seventh by popularity, with 51.1 million prescriptions last year, down from 75 million in 2005. The second-biggest seller by dollar sales is the heartburn drug Nexium from AstraZeneca. But it is a lackluster No. 19 in popularity. Overall, only eight of the 50 most popular drugs are still branded, compared to 20 in 2003, IMS says; 75 percent of all prescriptions are for generic drugs.

The third most popular drug, with 81.3 million prescriptions, is the blood-pressure-lowering medicine lisinopril, which used to be sold under the brand names Zestril and Prinivil. Overall, six of the top 15 most prescribed meds are blood-pressure-lowering drugs. There are so many good generic blood pressure drugs that it is difficult for brand-name drugmakers to improve upon them.

The No. 5 drug, azithromycin, is the generic version of Pfizer's popular antibiotic Zithromax. It tallied 53 million prescriptions last year. Like Vicodin, it's a much maligned medicine whose popularity was once blamed on overmarketing. It's not being advertised to doctors or consumers anymore, but it's still overused.

Brand name drug companies are inventing fewer drugs—a third as many were approved in 2009 as in 1999—and the ones they are inventing aren't selling. The last good year for new medicines was in 2006. Drugs launched that year generated $1.2 billion in first-year sales, says IMS. In none of the years since have drugmakers come close to this figure.

Companies are responding by trying to focus on medicines they can sell to small numbers of people at a higher price for rarer diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis and ultra-rare genetic diseases. Ironically, that may include the next big painkiller: an injected protein drug that blocks nerve growth. It is being developed by Pfizer and could hit the market in a couple years.

The Top 5:

Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (painkiller)

Simvastatin (high cholesterol)
Lisinopril (high blood pressure)
Levothyroxine (thyroid disorders)
Azithromycin (antibiotic)

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