Study Shows Increased Use of Prescription Drugs

PharmaceuticalAccording to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the use of prescription pharmaceutical products has skyrocketed in the United States over the last 10 years. Researchers used information gathered as part of a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, looking at nearly 40,000 Americans over the age of 20. The study found that the use of prescription drugs went up approximately 60% from 1999 to 2012. The same time frame saw “poly-pharmacy” use—use of five or more prescription drugs at the same time—increase by nearly 15%.

Here are some of the other findings of the study:

  • The most commonly prescribed pharmaceutical products are those typically used to treat people who are overweight or obese, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol.
  • The use of prescription anti-depressants doubled during the decade, from 7 to 13 percent, while the use of prescription blood pressure medications went up by a third. Those increases paled in comparison to the jump in anti-cholesterol medications, which quadrupled during the period of the study.
  • Some prescription drugs actually saw a decline—antibiotic use went down, with many in the profession speculating that users had built up a resistance and that the drugs were no longer effective.
  • The largest increase in prescription drug use was in the above-65 age group—an increase of almost 40%. Researchers concluded that the aging of the baby boomer generation has had a significant impact on the use of prescription drugs.

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