Drugs are Dangerous
By Dr. Christopher Kent, D.C. www.Mercola.com
You can read more about Dr. Kent's work in a special issue of The American Chiropractor.
While approximately 10,000 per year die from the effects of illegal drugs, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that an estimated 106,000 hospitalized patients die each year from drugs which are properly prescribed and properly administered. More than two million suffer serious side effects. 
An article in Newsweek  reports that adverse drug reactions, from "properly" prescribed drugs, are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Only heart disease, cancer, and stroke kill more Americans than drugs prescribed by medical doctors. Reactions to prescription drugs kill more than twice as many Americans as HIV/AIDS or suicide. Fewer die from accidents or diabetes than adverse drug reactions. This study did not include outpatients, cases of malpractice, or instances where the drugs were not taken as directed.
According to another AMA publication, drug related "problems" kill as many as 198,815 people, put 8.8 million in hospitals, and account for up to 28% of hospital admissions.  If these figures are accurate, only cancer and heart disease kill more patients than drugs. This situation has not improved since the publication of this information. Null  et al have published a comprehensive and well-documented study of deaths associated with medical practice. Here is an abstract:
"A definitive review of medical peer-review journals and government health statistics shows that American medicine frequently causes more harm than good. The number of people having in-hospital, adverse drug reactions (ADR) to prescribed medicine is 2.2 million. Dr. Richard Besser, of the CDC, in 1995, said the number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections was 20 million. Dr. Besser, in 2003, now refers to tens of millions of unnecessary antibiotics.
The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million. The total number of iatrogenic (doctor-caused) deaths shown in the following table is 783,936.
A recent article in Archives of Internal Medicine  stated that in the seven year period from 1998 through 2005, reported serious adverse drug events increased 2.6-fold, and fatal adverse drug events increased 2.7-fold. Another study concluded that the majority (86%) of the adverse drug reactions for which patients were admitted to a medical intensive care unit were preventable. 
The authors conclude: "When the number one killer in a society is the healthcare system, then, that system has no excuse except to address its own shortcomings. It is time to address the belief that the first solution to seek for relief of life's problems is a drug.”
1. "Drug deaths." Globe & Mail (Canada). February 27, 1998.
2. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. CDC. 2007;56(05):93-96.
3. Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN: "Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients." JAMA 1998;279:1200.
4. Kalb C: "When drugs do harm." Newsweek. April 27, 1998. Page 61.
5. "Reaction." American Medical News. January 15, 1996. Page 11.
6. 1. Null G, Dean C, Feldman, M, Rasio, D, Smith D: "Death by Medicine." Life Extension. March, 2004. www.lef.org/magazine/mag2004/mar2004_awsi_death_01.htm
7. Moore TJ, Cohen MR, Furberg CD: Serious adverse drug events reported to the Food and Drug Administration, 1998-2005. Archives of Internal Medicine 2007;167:1752-1759.sRivkin A: Admissions to a medical intensive care unit related to adverse drug reactions. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 2007;64(17):1840-1843.