There’s no secret prescriptions drugs have taken off in the past few decades, amounting to a multi-billion dollar industry. Millions are hooked on them, despite this why are so many policymakers or key people of interest shutting an eye on the potential perils these drugs pose? In the quest to treat symptoms, not diseases, physicians prescribe psychotropic drugs to those suffering and looking for an easy way out – one pill that makes life easier and bearable. Delivered right from a pharmacy, with a nice FDA stamp on them, people naively buy them thinking they’re safe. So, how safe are these actually?

A study found that users of sleep aids and anti-anxiety meds can kill. The team of British medical researchers undertook an extensive study which compared 34,727 patients prescribed anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) or hypnotic (sleep) drugs to 69,418 people not prescribed these drugs.  Most of these drugs were  benzodiazepines or Z-drugs. Sound familiar? What about Xanax, Valium, Lunesta orAmbien? Same thing.

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The participants were followed over a period of 7.6 years. Results showed that for every 100 people, there were 4 more death in the prescription group than in the drug-free one. You can imagine, this isn’t entirely accurate. People take prescription drugs for a reason, one good reason being that they aren’t healthy. Still, after controlling for factors like  “sex, age at study entry, sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, other psychiatric disorders, medical morbidity, and prescriptions for non-study drugs,” the researchers found people taking prescription drugs were twice as likely to die in this period than the control group.

Interestingly enough, the more drugs a person took, the higher the mortality, further strengthening the link. Is this evidence that prescription drugs kill? No, otherwise you’d see them off the counter. It’s really difficult to prove a direct cause and effect link like this, but you can definitely suggest it – for those with ear and reason to sense it.

The findings were reported in the British Medical Journal.