Over a 12-month period, 68% of Americans received a prescription from at least 1 drug group, 52% received prescriptions from at least 2 drug groups, and 21% received prescriptions from at least 6 drug groups, according to the results of a study published online on June 21, 2013, in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Data for the study were drawn from prescription records for 2009 from the Rochester Epidemiology Project in Olmsted County, Minnesota, and are thought to reflect prescribing practices for the United States as a whole.
The results found that 17% of people were prescribed antibiotics, 13% were prescribed antidepressants, 12% were prescribed opioid painkillers, 11% were prescribed antihypertensives, 11% were prescribed antilipemics, and 11% were prescribed vaccines. Prescribing patterns differed markedly by age: vaccines, antibiotics, and antiasthma drugs were most common in those aged under 19 years; antidepressants and opioids were most common in young and middle-aged adults; and cardiovascular medications were most common in older adults. Overall, women and older adults received more prescriptions—for instance, nearly 1 in 4 women aged 50 to 64 years were prescribed an antidepressant.