Growing number of Americans taking prescription medications

“This unintended consequence of losing control of physical health is so important. It cannot be understated easily. The amount of orthopedic surgery that might be avoided by maintaining optimal physical condition can’t be estimated. This study uses   prescribing data from Medicare Part D, making it an excellent source for conclusions. A life lost to constant poor quality from years of obesity is a tragedy. We should feel empathy for those trapped and double our efforts to find an effective treatment.” Bill Chesnut, MD

Growing number of Americans taking prescription medications 

The Washington Post (11/4, Dennis) reports that research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that “nearly three in five American adults take a prescription” medication. That number “is up markedly since 2000 because of much higher use of almost every type of medication, from antidepressants to treatments for high cholesterol and diabetes.”

The Los Angeles Times (11/4, Kaplan) reports that “the graying of America and the advent of Medicare Part D contributed to the increase, but the nation’s obesity crisis was probably a bigger factor…wrote” the researchers. They found that “among the 10 drugs that were most widely used in 2011 and 2012, eight are prescribed to treat diabetes, high cholesterol,” hypertension, “or other conditions often related to being overweight or obese.”

NBC News (11/4, Fox) reports on its website that “more people are also taking antidepressants and proton pump inhibitors.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (11/4, Fauber) reports, however, that “some drug classes saw a decline in use including sex hormones for women…and antibiotics.”

Meanwhile, the NPR (11/4, Kodjak) “Shots” blog reports that the research “also shows a rising number of people are taking multiple meds.” The data indicated that “the share of people who took more than five prescription drugs in a month nearly doubled to 15 percent.”

AMA News, Wednesday, November 4, 2015