Almost Half Of All Americans Use Prescription Drugs Each Month
Nearly half of all Americans used at least one prescription drug per month in 2008, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bloomberg reports. That's a 10 percent increase over the preceding decade. Over that time, yearly spending by Americans on drugs doubled to $234 billion. "The two biggest-sellers last year were Pfizer Inc.'s Lipitor for high cholesterol and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s clot-buster, Plavix. The rise of such medicines may continue as insurers add as many as 32 million customers through the U.S. health-care overhaul, according to the Congressional Budget Office" (Olmos, 9/2).
HealthDay adds some details: "Use of two or more drugs [per month] increased from 25 percent to 31 percent, and the use of five or more drugs increased from 6 percent to 11 percent, according to the analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The study also found that 20 percent of children and 90 percent of adults aged 60 and older reported using at least one prescription drug in the past month, said the [CDC] researchers" (9/2).
The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog notes the drug industry's reaction to the study: "The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the trade association for drug makers, said in a statement that 'as we learn more about disease, prescription medicines are justifiably playing an increasingly important role. The best solution for all patients is to strike the right medical balance between proper and effective use of prescription medicines and other therapies and interventions'" (Hobson, 9/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.