“Medicines claimed more lives in Germany last year than traffic accidents did,” reported the newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten. Reportedly, some 25,000 people died in 1998 from wrongly prescribed drugs. This is three times as many as were killed in traffic accidents during the same period. Self-medication is said to play only a secondary role. The main problem seems to be a lack of information and training among doctors about the medicines and their effects. Pharmacologist Ingolf Cascorbi said that according to one estimate, “in Germany each year, 10,000 deaths and 250,000 cases of persons suffering from serious side effects could be avoided if research and training were optimized,” states the report.
Similarly, the French magazine Sciences et avenir reports on a recent study in France revealing that of 150,000 prescriptions given to people over 70 years of age, some 10,700 were either wrong or ineffective. Nearly 1 in 50 was potentially dangerous because of possible reactions with other prescribed drugs or other risks. In France elderly people spend an estimated one million days each year in the hospital as a result of negative reactions to medicine.