According to a recent study, in France, consultation with the doctor and prescription of medication are too frequently associated. However, there are other solutions with less side effects and less cost. Explanation with Doctor Martin Ducret, doctor and journalist at Doctor’s Daily.
franceinfo: What does this French study reveal?
Martin Ducret : That too many drugs are prescribed in France. In our country, more than 80% of consultations with the doctor result in a prescription for drugs. In the UK it’s only half, and in Sweden it’s down to 30%! We are clearly a bad student in Europe. And when we know that adverse drug reactions lead to 130,000 hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths each year, it is imperative to change our habits.
What are the causes of this French delay?
They are multiple. First, from the patients’ point of view, it is mainly due to the need for efficiency, habit, lack of time to turn to another therapy. Or simply because the doctor prescribes a drug for them, they feel obliged to consume it. Then for the doctors, it is mainly for lack of time in consultation, by reflex, by difficulty in saying no to the patients or still by influence of the laboratories, that they prescribe by excess of the drugs.
Do you notice an influence of laboratories in your practice?
Personally, I receive from time to time medical visitors, representing laboratories, but some of my colleagues do not. These visits are in fact only for information purposes, yet studies on the subject show that they indirectly influence the doctor in his prescriptions.
Is devoting time to discussing with the patient essential to you in order to prescribe less medication?
Yes. I find that the more time I have in consultation, the more I can understand what a patient is suffering from and the more I will have at my disposal different solutions to offer him. Not just drugs. For example, if a patient suffers from anxiety or a sleep disorder, it will be more effective to listen to him, to give him advice on his lifestyle (better eating, playing sports, etc.) and refer him to a specialist, rather than prescribing anxiolytics or sleeping pills. In the same logic, a patient who complains of a minor daily back pain will be much better relieved by rehabilitation sessions than by taking painkillers.
Can other measures be considered?
This consideration of time is essential, but yes other measures are necessary to catch up. We need to improve prescription recommendations for doctors, more public health campaigns to educate patients or even better promotion of non-drug therapies, such as sport-health for example.