Half of Americans Use Prescription Drugs

Published Online: Monday, June 16, 2014
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Nearly half of all Americans reported taking 1 or more prescription medications during the previous 30 days in 2007 through 2010, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The “Health, United States, 2013” report, which included a special section on prescription drug use, found that the portion of patients who had not taken any prescriptions over the previous 30 days decreased from 60.9% in 1988 through 1994 to 52.5% in 2007 through 2010. In addition, the portion of patients who took 5 or more prescriptions within the last month increased from 4.0% in 1988 through 1994 to 10.1% in 2007 through 2010.

The report also indicated that prescription drug use increased with age. From 2007 through 2010, 23.2% of children took between 1 and 4 prescription medications, compared with 49.4% of adults 45 years and older. Less than 1.0% of children took 5 or more prescriptions within the previous month, compared with 39.7% of adults 65 years and older.

Cardiovascular agents and cholesterol-lowering drugs were 2 of the most commonly used classes of prescriptions. In 2007 through 2010, 17.7% of adults 18 to 64 years of age used at least 1 cardiovascular medication, and the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs among adults of the same age category increased more than 6-fold compared with 1988 through 1994. This increase in use was partially caused by the introduction of statins to lower cholesterol, the report notes.

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