Americans spent $307.4 billion on prescription drugs in 2010, according to a recent report from consulting firm IMS Health. Although this figure is a 2.3 percent reduction from last year, it's still a huge portion of the U.S. economy to be spending on prescription medications, many of which are ineffective at best and extremely dangerous at worst.
According to Reuters, the decline in spending was due in part to greater use of generic medications and few new therapies introduced in 2010. Visits to doctors' offices also declined last year, as did the number of patients seeking new treatment for chronic illnesses. Because of a slow economy, high unemployment rates, and the loss of insurance coverage, Americans are forced to be more careful when it comes to spending money on healthcare.
Figures also indicated that more Americans are dependent on government assistance programs to help pay for medications. Thirty percent of all prescriptions in 2010 were filled through Medicaid or a Medicare Part D plan.
Although many Americans face economic struggles and limited resources, we are still investing a huge sum into a pharmaceutical industry that continues to fail us. Cancer treatments topped the list in 2010, representing $22.3 billion dollars, and yet chemotherapy offers only a 12 percent remission rate among patients seen at the early stages of illness. (2) Chemotherapy, like most drug-based treatment programs, fails to address the underlying causes of illness and simply introduces more toxins into the patient's body.