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Britain a "nation of pill-poppers"

Britain is becoming a nation of pill-poppers, overusing prescription drugs for ailments, according to a scientific paper.

The average number of prescriptions per person is up from eight a year to more than 16 over the past two decades, said the authors of A Pill For Every Ill, published in Social Science and Medicine.

The increase comes despite people living longer, healthier lives, said the paper's author Professor Joan Busfield, from Essex University. The age of "stoicism" was dead, and Britain was becoming more like France with its "long-established tradition of taking medicines to heal problems", said Professor Busfield.

"The population is getting healthier and healthier, longevity is increasing, but we are using more and more drugs."

She accused the pharmaceutical industry of "disease-mongering", with drugs companies now categorising problems such as sexual dysfunction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and high cholesterol as diseases to maximise profits.

Prof Busfield claimed the industry was controlling science, with trials sponsored by drug companies likely to yield more favourable results. The report revealed companies were "intensively marketing" products to doctors by sponsoring medical conferences, sending their reps to surgeries and handing out gifts such as branded pens and mugs.

"Even small gifts can influence behaviour," she said.

Social Science and Medicine

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Yes patients want magic pill for all ills, being overweight, they want pill to reduce weight rather than controlling diet" - A Zuberi, Medway

"I agree with Pro Busfield's comments. We should do more about preventing the disease-passing on to families than
feeding the drug companies so that we can have a quality of life" - Tom Samuels, Berkshire