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Keywords:

  • prescription-related illness;
  • extent;
  • causes;
  • recommendations

Abstract

Prescribed drugs are now a major cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly in the elderly. The extent of this pandemic is described and its likely causes in primary care are identified: unnecessary prescribing, imprecise diagnosis, inadequate undergraduate and postgraduate education in pharmacology and therapeutics, the uncritical application of evidence-based medicine, the outstanding development of new drugs and their sometimes unjustified promotion. Urgent action is recommended under seven headings, by health administration, epidemiologists, medical educators and prescribing doctors.