Study Shows People Prefer Natural Remedies over Pharmaceutical Drugs for Chronic Illnesses
According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly 70% of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than 50% take two or more. Yet, new research finds that more than half (55%) of Americans prefer a natural remedy over a pharmaceutical drug when dealing with chronic pain or illness.
Why the Disparity?
The pharmaceutical industry’s $27 billion annual promotional and advertising budget has “incredible” reach and impact, according to Kevin Burke, founder of WholesomeONE.com, a guide for natural medicine.
“Big Pharma’s budget dwarfs the $1.3 billion budget of the natural products and services industry,” he says. “This results in patients’ wishes being impeded while fostering the overly simplistic perception that illnesses are cured by drugs. Unfortunately, this is not how healthcare works. Most drugs for chronic illness only address a person’s symptoms, thus ignoring the underlying causes.”
The disparity between the number of drugs being prescribed and the number of natural therapies is the result of the pharmaceutical industry’s promotional budget and profitability, not what patients want or even need, says Burke. However, he adds that the Internet has made it possible for people to become more empowered to seek out natural alternatives.
A Simple Question
The recent study conducted with Google Insights in July 2014 asked 500 random Americans:
“Imagine you have an ongoing health issue (i.e. headaches, back pain, food sensitivity, etc.).
WHICH TREATMENT DO YOU PREFER?”
- 55% chose a Natural Remedy
- 42% chose a Pharmaceutical Drug
- 3% chose Other
Which Americans are Most Interested?
Close analysis of the survey data revealed that there was little difference in the results when comparing gender, income, and geography. The Western region of the United States is commonly thought of as being more open to and oriented toward natural approaches, but the data indicated that people in the South, Northeast and Midwest have equivalent wishes for natural remedies. Burke says this shows evidence that consumers seeking natural remedies for health issues is clearly not a fringe or progressive movement, but a national trend.
What Happens Next?
“It’s become clear that people in the United States have been over-prescribed pharmaceutical drugs,” Burke says. “At the same time, chronic illness concerns have never been higher, and people are seeking natural remedies. As a result, every natural health category is growing, despite being overshadowed by Big Pharma’s promotional efforts.”
The survey results should not lead people to dismiss the importance of pharmaceutical drugs. Burke says, “Natural medicine is certainly not appropriate for all kinds of health issues. Drugs and surgery are excellent for dealing with acute medical conditions, traumatic injuries, and in providing emergency treatment.”
As more people seek out reliable information and alternate options for dealing with chronic health conditions, Burke says that consumers should expect to see ever-increasing activity in educational and promotional efforts by the natural products and services industry.
- Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Take Prescription Drugs, Mayo Clinic
- Pharmaceutical Industry Marketing and its Influence on Physicians and Patients, The Pew Charitable Trusts
- Which Treatment Do You Prefer, Google Insights