Overmedicating Seniors: By the Numbers

Jessica Lee Apr 25, 2008

While millions of Americans are unable to afford vitally important prescription drugs, many others find themselves dangerously overmedicated due to pill-pushing doctors and pharmaceutical companies.

25: Average number of prescriptions given to seniors per year as of 2003.

2.2 million: Medication alerts indicating excessive dosages unsuitable for seniors were triggered in 2003.

357,392: Number of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) reported to the FDA in 2003.

106,000: Estimated annual number of fatal ADRs in 2004, according to the FDA (the FDA claims to have no official count of fatal ADRs).

1: The U.S. healthcare system is the current leading cause of death in the United States for “allowing, even promoting, so many unnecessary procedures, drugs and mishaps,” according to Dr. Joseph Mercola, author of Take Control of your Health.

2.98 billion: Number of prescriptions written in the U.S. in 2000, equally 10.4 prescriptions per person.

1 in 4: Patients who suffered observable side effects from the 3.34 billion prescriptions written in the U.S. in 2002.

$1,670,845: total donations by the pharmaceutical/health products industry to 2008 presidential candidates. (Democrats 54.6% and Republicans 45.4%) $362,220 given to Hillary Clinton; $342,015 to Barack Obama; and $98,748 to John McCain.

$1.6 trillion: Total U.S. healthcare spending in 2003 (14% of the GNP).

10 minutes: Typical length of a doctor’s appointment where patients receive a prescription.

30 million: Pounds of antibiotics consumed in U.S. in 2002.

90: Percent of upper respiratory infections that are viral and should not be treated with antibiotics, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control.


“There are two problems with the bi-partisan enthusiasm for channeling more meds to seniors. The first is the elderly are already seriously overmedicated; the second is that nothing is being done by the Congress or Medicare reformers to promote healthier, fit seniors. I wish at least half, if not all, the new funds were going to promote a mindset among seniors for greater personal responsibility for their own well being, and less dependence on drugs.”
— Donald B. Ardell, Ph. D.
“The Congress is Overmedicating Seniors,” July 22, 2003

Sources:,,,,, Wisconsin Medial Journal

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