New study by Quest Diagnostics of almost 76,000 lab tests show more than 60% of patients misuse prescription drugs

In a disturbing study about prescription drug use, Quest Diagnostics made the valuable discovery that more than 60 % of patients misuse prescription drugs. Quest investigators revealed their results a report entitled, Prescription Drug Misuse in America: Laboratory Insights Into the New Drug Epidemic. Importantly, they analyzed 75,997 urine specimens after they were deidentified (made impossible to find out who they came from) and checked for 26 commonly abused prescription medicines and illicit drugs like marijuana and cocaine. 

For people who had laboratory results that did not match up with a doctor's orders, 60% tested positive for drugs not specified by the doctor who ordered the urine test and 40% did not give positive results for any drugs. While younger people from 18 to 24 years old were most likely to misuse prescription drugs (73 percent testing positive), patients more than 65 in the study still tested positively about half the time. These results should certainly serve as a wake up call to people around the country and hopefully will increase objective questions during physician office visits about the importance of NOT taking medicine that was perscribed for other people.

The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs, 12 Top Meds for 2012 includes information on this problem in the Do's and Don't section. It's actually not legal to share controlled medicines (such as Valium, Oxycontin and Morphine). Package inserts of medicines also note that they are not to be shared. 

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