Majority of Americans Used Rx Drugs To Treat Chronic Diseases in 2007
Fifty-one percent of U.S. residents last year took one or more prescription drugs for chronic diseases, compared with 50% in each of the previous four years and 47% in 2001, according to a report released on Tuesday by Medco Health Solutions, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports.
For the report, Medco examined the prescription records of a representative sample of 2.5 million customers from 2001 to 2007.
Last year, almost two-thirds of women ages 20 and older, one in four children and teenagers, 52% of men and three-fourths of seniors took prescription drugs for chronic diseases, according to the report.
The report also found that:
- Hypertension and cholesterol medications were the most commonly prescribed last year;
- 28% of female seniors and 22% of male seniors last year took five or more prescription drugs regularly;
- Use of prescription drugs for chronic diseases increased by 20% among adults ages 20 to 44 from 2001 to 2007, in large part because of increased use of depression, diabetes, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and seizure medications;
- About 1.2 million children took prescription medications for type 2 diabetes, sleep disorders and gastrointestinal problems last year; and
- Asthma medications have replaced allergy treatments as the medications most commonly prescribed to children.
Experts attribute the results of the report to "worsening public health," improvements in prescription drugs for chronic diseases and the "pharmaceutical industry's relentless advertising," and physicians expect the percentage of U.S. residents who take such medications to increase in the future, according to the AP/Chronicle.
Daniel Jones, president of the American Heart Association, said that, because "body weights are so much higher in children in general ... we're going to have larger numbers of adults who develop high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol or diabetes at an earlier age."
Robert Epstein, chief medical officer at Medco, said, "We've become a couch potato culture, (and) it's a lot easier to pop a pill" than diet or exercise regularly (Johnson, AP/Houston Chronicle 5/14).