Prescription Drug Use Up

Published Online: Saturday, January 1, 2005

An analysis of Americans' health found that just over 44% of all Americans take at least 1 prescription drug, and 16.5% take at least 3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that those rates were up 39% and 12% between 1988 and 1994. The annual report "Health, United States 2004" presents the latest data collected by federal health agencies, academic and professional health associations, and international health organizations.

The study found that prescription drugs were the fastest growing expenditure. The price of drugs rose 5%, but greater use of medicines increased total expenditures 15.3% in 2002. The study also found the following:

  • Prescription drug use was increasing among individuals of all ages, and use increases with age
  • Almost half of all women (49%) were taking prescription drugs, compared with 39% of men
  • Prescription drug use peaked at 84% for individuals aged 65 and over, with the highest rate at 89% for African American women over 65

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