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Americans Take Too Many Drugs

Americans take too many prescription medications. In 2014, Americans filled 4.3 billion prescriptions while spending a record amount of $374 billion for their medications. 2014 spending on prescription drugs hit the highest level since 2001 according to data from the IMS Institute of Healthcare Informatics.

I would not have a problem with Americans taking so many prescription medications if the drugs were improving our health. But, that is not what is happening. In every category of the World Health Organization’s ranking of health indicators, we finish last or near last when we are compared to all the major Western countries. We finish last in infant mortality and U.S. men and women die at an earlier age when they are compared to their counterparts in other western countries. It is clear that our medical system spends too much money without getting positive results.

You would think that these numbers would be a wake-up call for the American Medical Association, the FDA and the CDC to investigate why we take so many drugs that are not improving our health. However, that is not how things work.

You see, The Big Pharma Cartel has hijacked the American medical system. They have convinced far too many of us—including most physicians–that a prescription drug is the only treatment necessary for what ails someone.

Prescription medications may be indicated in many acute situations—such as antibiotics for treating pneumonia or cardiac medications for treating an acute heart attack. However, in chronic care cases, many drug therapies fail to treat the underlying cause of an illness.

As I wrote in Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do, most (over 95%) drugs work by either blocking receptors or poisoning enzymes.   After practicing medicine for over 20 years, I can state with certainty that our bodies were not designed to have their receptors blocked or the enzymes poisoned for the long-term.

Nearly all doctors are skilled with prescribing toxic medications. Sadly, the vast majority of these same physicians have no knowledge or interest in using natural therapies. A natural therapy will often support and nourish the body’s biochemistry while a prescription medication will disrupt the biochemical milieu. Why isn’t that simple idea taught in any medical school in the U.S.?

In medical school, young doctors spend an inordinate and ridiculous amount of time learning about drugs. Their training centers on the diagnosis of pathology and how to prescribe a drug to treat that illness. Sadly, western-trained physicians learn nothing about health or what it is and how to maintain or optimize it.   Unless our medical schools change the way they educate their students, nothing will change. We will continue to waste more money on toxic drug therapies that do not treat the underlying cause of a patient’s problems.

How will it change? It will change when the public demands a change. It will take the public to reject the use of expensive and toxic medications that do not treat the underlying cause of an illness. We need patients to rise up and say that they have had enough of taking expensive, suboptimal medications that have too many adverse effects.

I began writing my books in 1997. I wrote my first book, The Miracle of Natural Hormones, to educate my patients about the difference between natural and synthetic hormones. Synthetic hormones are associated with serious illnesses such as breast cancer. Bioidentical hormones are not. My latest book, The Statin Disaster, was written to inform you that the most profitable class of medications in the history of Big Pharma, statin medications, fail nearly 99% who take them. And, let us not forget that statin medications are associated with horrific side effects including ALS, muscle weakness, Parkinson’s disease, and brain dysfunction including confusion and dementia. Finally, they are expensive with little upside. Statin medications should be pulled from the marketplace.

Don’t be so quick to take a prescription medication for everything that ails you. Educate yourself about what that drug can do in your body. You should look for items that support and nourish your biochemistry, not block and poison it. In my practice, the most knowledgeable patients get the best results.







Author Info

David Brownstein

Comments ( 19 )

  • Author Icon

    Hello, Dr B:

    In your next in-depth post, can you please write about the dangers of the toxic and poisonous “Fluoroquinolone” antibiotics and its adverse side effects?

    Much appreciated.


    • Author Icon
      David Brownstein

      The quinolones should be the last choice antibiotics for any condition as they are associated with too many severe adverse effects.

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    Brent Bielema

    Medicine by itself is not bad, it is just that our system has been engineered to perpetuate illness — call it “disease stage management” as a local pharmacy puts it. John D. Rockefeller set out to make his petroleum-based pills the predominant health paradigm so he commissioned the Flexner Report to squelch natural alternatives — then set up institutions to assure domination. One of the Rockefeller Foundation emphases is population reduction — no wonder this is happening! Also when the I.G. Farben nerve gas company was dismantled after WW2, they broke it into 47 new entities — so that is basically what is plaguing us today. And the nerve gas (mustard) turned into chemotherapy drugs! Plus we have the good old AMA cartel (which fought chiropractic and promoted smoking – which killed my grandpa) further crushing legitimate options. The solution is to re-empower individual patients through a truly free market where we can buy insurance (or anything else) from other states / anywhere else. Disarm Obamacare and provide tax incentives (if needed) for healing cooperatives and healthy non-poisoned food growing operations! And keep spreading the good word of natural health…

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    Mark Smith

    Well, they did a war on cancer, and there’s more cancer.
    And a war on terror, and there is more terrorism.
    And a war on cholesterol and heart disease, and there is more of that too.
    Who believed that the outcome of the war on drugs should have been any different than this?

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    Rebel in Idaho

    I’m a practicing pharmacist and I’m sad to say that my patients don’t want any of my advice on how to actually be better. They just want a magic pill. They won’t even give me 30 minutes of moderate exercise twice a week; forget any wild ideas about changing their diet.

    True story:
    Nice old lady at my counter “What are some of the side effects of the shingles shot?”
    Me, in my most serious tone “Paralysis and instant death.”
    Nice old lady “What is my copay?”

    People get really mad when I tell them what the manufacturer claims that Tamiflu, among others, actually does. They just want a magic pill to absolve them of the consequences of their bad decisions and they think there is an instant cure for everything.

    The majority of my patients are obese and a majority of the rest are overweight. I dispense metformin, insulin, and glyburide to patients buying more than $10 worth of candy and the current promo of diet soda everyday.

    It’s so depressing I almost want to try an antidepressant.

  • Author Icon
    Jan K

    @ m.banks: I had come across a site that compiled the average number of prescriptions doled out, listed by individual doctor, for Medicare patients (of course, I now could not quickly locate it), possibly ProPublica. The scary thing was that the nationwide average number of prescriptions written per doctor for this population of seniors was 24!! Considering that the interactive effects of two medications have never been studied, let alone 24, and considering this population’s increased vulnerability to meds, this is pure insanity. Additionally, the FDA phased out its former requirement of Stage 4 drug trials, which now makes the prescription recipients the Phase 4 study group.

    @ Karin Larka: At having a medication prescribed, it is prudent to head to the library to consult the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) for a complete reading of the drug’s chemical composition, the mechanisms via which it’s purported to work, and, most importantly, its contraindications. The PDR informs that the majority of heart-related prescriptions drugs doled out may offer initial ‘relief’ but within six months can produce the very symptoms they were meant to eradicate.

    @ Dr. Brownstein: “…one would think these numbers would be a wake-up call for the FDA and AMA…” They did wake up a while ago…to the fact that such colluded manner of practice has them all rolling in dough, and they’re perfectly satisfied with that result. Your exclamation merely reflects a projection of your principles and ethics onto groups who operate with neither. The only way we’ll see this medical malpractice come to a close is when sufficient numbers of the patient base have been lost to alternative solutions, and I do hope to witness this in my lifetime. Thank you for the direct and informative work you do!

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    DR B My brother is taking at least 20 pills plus vitiamins a day. He is now not able to walk, barely able to talk, sleeps most of the day, needs help in all areas of life, I have tried so many times to tell them that, many meds are causing his inabilities. They feel like the Dr knows best. It is so sad to see a man who was so active in his younger life, now not be able to do even the necessary things in life. Please all who read this and take many meds to rethink what it is doing to your body. Just look at the whole picture and ask yourselves how can the body take that many meds and not get toxic and poisoned. The same with our babies,To many shots at an early age has to cause problems in our precious little ones. What baby needs a Hep B shot the minute they are born. Just crazy.

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    It’s obvious that you care about people a lot, Dr. B. That’s great. You fight hard to make things in the world better and just. I have a high level of respect for you, your work, your science, all of it.

    I care about people too. But in the past year or so I’m coming to believe that many people aren’t just misled, brainwashed, ignorant, etc…but are in fact just fools. They may even be mentally challenged, and I mean that literally. They WILLFULLY support and even participate in all of the medical fraud, hoaxes, lies, harm, and even murder in the medical system. I’m not just talking about the doctors and corporations…I’m talking about the patients. They WANT to take endless drugs, get vaccines, get unnecessary surgeries, give their last dollar of savings to the bloodsucking medical leeches, etc.

    Well, I believe in the concept of “survival of the fittest” and I don’t feel bad for those fools anymore. I accept that they and the system will work together killing all the fools off eventually. I accept that they will commit what amounts to long-term medical suicide. Good riddance. It will leave the rest of us smarter and “fitter” people to continue on without them, and all their counterproductive nonsense, and dead-weight on society. The only people I feel bad for are the young innocent children with fools for parents (like in your MMR vaccine blogpost), and the fact that the fools still get to vote…which might actually take away my rights one day after all!

    Keep up the fine fight, Dr. B. But, just accept that millions of unfit fools aren’t going to make it much longer. Their loss, not ours. And without fools to leech off of, then the politicians and corporations will have less leverage. When it’s all over, this just might be a necessary culling/purging of the foolish human race. That might not be so bad after all for long-term future generations!

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    Karin Larka

    Do you write about beta blockers in any of your books? After a silent heart attack, discovered last May, the cardio put my husband on a beta blocker. He felt good for 2 weeks. Since then, he has very little energy. Our internist had him cut the beta blocker dose in 1/2 because he pulse was running at 46. It went down to 40 and 41 this past week, and he decided [after reading Mercola’s blogs] to wean himself off of it. He only took 1/2 of the daily dose at bedtime last night and the night before. He had a lot of energy the last 2 days. My personal opinion is that the beta blocker was killing my husband. We’d like more info, because we are going to have to tell our 2 doctors about weaning off, and they are like you described. Thank you.

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    Susan Hall

    ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs database provides information about drug-company payments to doctors. My (former) doctor accepted $7105 from Pfizer from 2009-2011. There in lies one of the problems. Conflict of interest.

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    Dear Dr. Brownstein,

    I was just this morning asking my mother if she’d stopped taking the blood pressure medicine her doc had prescribed. She’s 77 and her blood pressure is only 140. Geez. I do know after an incident during the holiday season down in St. Pete florida near where your mom lives, a 60 year old cyclist rammed her passenger side while she was driving 25 mph. it shook her up and the dude hired a lawyer to sue her insurance company. What a ripoff. it was his fault and yet he’s suing her insurance. So it rattled her cage a bit and her diabetes came back and her blood pressure went up. When I heard her story, I told her that stressful events can spike various health issues like blood pressure and even the diabetes. But she walks 5 miles regularly and is very healthy and eats real food. So I said “mom, please don’t take that blood pressure medicine. As time passes, your blood pressure will decrease”. And it did. But she’s still taking it because her generation doesn’t want to “waste” anything. OMG. She’s going to stop taking it, but these doctors in collusion with the Big Pharma are just legalized drug dealers. It really ticks me off, but it makes me feel good that as a professional, you write about these topics – and I’ll share this one with mother. Thank you for caring. If I didn’t live 3000 miles away, you’d be my doc for sure.


    A BIG Dr. Brownstein Fan.

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    MS drugs may cost $5000 a month and let the person get worse and stay disabled. Some new MS drugs copy fumaric acid or cordyceps mushrooms or turmeric which are cheap, but an MS people taking them as a drug could not afford all three. They are very expensive. It is almost like they expect $5000 a month always for any drug. They change the drug name to keep the patent..maybe making minor changes..add water or bond that doesn’t matter. They don’t tell MS people about Celiac…that no gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO….taking vitamins/good oils, LDN, detoxing may heal them fast. They want research money. Some MS drugs lower the immune system and then they get cancer. MS people may not be getting thyroid medicine due to a strange TSH due to making antibodies to the thyroid and pituitary. LDN is withheld from is $1 a day and may help 99% of MS people as it helps to block hidden gluten/heal the gut lining and help the immune system work right. MS people may need bioidentical hormones and Vit B12 methylcobalamin shot and dairy free probiotic/zinc, HCl and enyzmes with meals, Mg, zinc, fish oil 2000mg, Vit D3 5000 IU, B vitamins, coenzyme Q10, rhodiola, evening primrose oil, lecithin, EDTA/DMPS IV chelations, Nature’s plus- Source of life multiple and Celiac diet gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO, Amour thyroid, sunlight/exercise/good water/eating organic/cooking by scratch, not eating food in a box/bag/label/…certified gluten free may have 20 ppm of gluten…too much gluten. Nuts not in the shell/meat basting/some spices may have hidden gluten. 100% gluten free is needed. etc.
    Depression/anxiety/panic/obsessing/no sleep/suicidal thought can be due to low oxygen in the brain due to Celiac. Drugs
    for depression may have Fluorine which blocks thyroid and lowers oxygen causing worse depression and suicidal thoughts. Celiac help I mentioned above may help depression and brain/body health issues fast.
    Celiac help may help ADD, Diabetes, cancer, MS, fibromyalgia, hair loss, acne, depression, bipolar, pregnancy, heart disease, arthritis and much more. People may heal fast. Drugs for pain and sugar may spread cancer. Drugs for pain may lower the immune system and let the health issue get worse. Untreated Celiac people may suffer/die early. Just covering symptoms and not treating the root cause lets the people get worse in health. Tests may not work to diagnose Celiac. Cyrex labs may help. Best wishes.

  • Author Icon
    Barbara Lee

    I agree…..completely. But now to change the subject back to your Mom, her gluten sensitivity and her difficulty finding something/bread to use for a decent sandwich. Have been going through the same frustration with my husband the past few years….refuses to eliminate a lunch time sandwich and then complains repeatedly about the bread falling apart, etc.

    Solution found this weekend in a new product from UDI’s (you may have already heard of it). The product is “Crispy and Delicious French Baguettes”. There are two in a package/enough for four sandwiches. About 30 minutes prior to using, simply head the desired amount in the oven to crisp then let cool. They actually look and taste like a REAL French baguette…$6.00 for a package at Safeway (freezer section); substantially more on line. Problem SOLVED, at least in my home.

    In support of my husband of 53 years I also gave up ALL grains, never tried to find any substitutes for bread, and just added many more vegetables, seeds, nuts, and protein sources to replace the grain products. Feel terrific, never take any meds, and am thankful that I have food to eat….unlike many people in our country and around the world. So much of this has to do with “mind over matter”.

    Also, enjoyed your interviews on The Truth About Cancer series. Thanks for all you do in working to educate that “there is not a pill for every ill”. At 72 just retired as a full time RN and am sad that so many people do not understand that most of the time our symptoms are simply the actions that our bodies take to heal themselves and to warn us of the need to make necessary changes. Give the body what it needs, avoid what irritates it, laugh frequently, and never stop “looking up”.


    • Author Icon
      David Brownstein

      Good advice, Barbara!

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    Thoughtfully expressed! When we look at the categories of prescription drugs — “anti-inflammatories, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety, anti-acid, anti-infective….” it just doesn’t have the sound of a sustainable practice.

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    Colette Harmer

    JoAnne…….AMEN. I finally convinced my husband to go to my medical doctor who practices homeopathy. Well, I guess it was his medical doctor’s ignorance on Vitamin D2 and D3 and natural hormone therapies that really convinced him to go to my doctor. Well really it was the cost of the testosterone prescription of $500/month compared to the $30/month of natural testosterone therapy that really got him to change. Seriously, it is so much better to just fix the problem, then to take any kind of prescription, but the person has to be willing to eat and live a healthy lifestyle to do so. I personally think it is well worth the effort!

  • Author Icon
    Kevin Hopkins

    Please get a new editor, 70% of Americans take at least 1 drug! If that is a fact are over 200 million Americans splitting the 4.3 million prescriptions you said above or should that be 4.3 BILLION???

    • Author Icon
      David Brownstein

      Maybe I do need an editor. That was how the article was reported it. However, they have recently corrected it and so will I. You are right: 4.3 billion!

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    Right that, Dr. B. When I hear family/friends talk about the statins they were just prescribed, or the anti-hypertensives, or the “whatever”, or they bemoan their “extremely high cholesterol of 216”, I launch into a Brownstein lecture. What is really sad (to me) is they feel so bad about their health when they should be rejoicing a (ex.) Perfectly fine cholesterol count. Going through life feeling like you have a health problem when you don’t steals your joy! The fact that you hand us back our joy is one of the many reasons I am so “rah rah!!” About your research, practice, and your nerve 🙂

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