Prescription Drug Use Keeps Rising in U.S.
Prescription drug use continues to rise in the U.S., involving almost 60 percent of the adult population in 2012, according to a study published in JAMA.
Researchers at Harvard University's Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health evaluated trends in prescription drug use from 1999 to 2012 using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
By analyzing data from 37,959 adults, 20 years old and up, they found overall usage increased in the 1999 to 2000 cycle from 51 percent of the population to 59 percent in 2011 to 2012. They also found that people 40 years and older experienced an increase in prescription drug use, while people 20 to 39 years showed no increase.
Use of medications for hypertension rose from 20 to 27 percent, as did medications to treat hyperlipidemia, from 7 to 17 percent largely driven by use of statins to control cholesterol levels. The most commonly used individual drug in 2011-2012 was simvastatin, used by 7.9 percent of the population, compared to only 2 percent in 1999-2000. Use of antidiabetic medications increased from 4.6 to 8.2 percent.
Antidepressant use increased overall from 7 to 13 percent, and narcotic analgesics rose from 3.8 to 5.7 of the adult population.
The use of sex hormones by women dropped from 19 percent to 11 percent, reflecting a decline in the use of noncontraceptive hormones for treating menopause.