Prescription Drug Use Rising in U.S., CDC
THURSDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Over the last 10 years,
the percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug
in the past month increased from 44 percent to 48 percent, says a
federal government study released Thursday.
Use of two or more drugs increased from 25 percent to 31
percent, and the use of five or more drugs increased from 6 percent
to 11 percent, according to the analysis of data from the National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
The study also found that 20 percent of children and 90 percent
of adults aged 60 and older reported using at least one
prescription drug in the past month, said the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention researchers.
Spending on prescription drugs in the United States totaled more
than $234.1 billion in 2008, more than double the amount spent in
1999, they found.
The most commonly used types of drugs in 2007-2008 included:
cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins, for older people; asthma
medicines for children; antidepressants for middle-aged adults; and
central nervous stimulants for adolescents.
Access to health care and health insurance are important factors
in the use of prescription medicines. People with a regular place
for health care were 2.7 times more likely to have used
prescription drugs in the past month than those without a
consistent place for health care, and people with health insurance
were nearly twice as likely to have used at least one prescription
drug than those without insurance. Among those with health
insurance, those with a prescription drug benefit were 22 percent
more likely to use prescription drugs than those without this
benefit, the researchers noted.
The use of multiple prescription drugs varied by age. Among
children younger than 12 years, less than 10 percent used two or
more prescription drugs in the past month and only 1 percent used
five or more. Among adults aged 60 and older, more than 76 percent
used two or more prescription drugs and 37 percent used five or
The higher drug use among seniors reflects the need to treat the
many diseases that commonly occur in this age group, the
researchers said. However, they noted that the use of multiple
medications can lead to harmful drug interactions, failure to take
all prescribed medications, and increased health care costs.
The study also found that women were more likely than men to use
prescription drugs and that whites had the highest prescription
drug use while Mexican Americans had the lowest level of use.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists offers tips
safe use of medicines.
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