7 out of every 10 Americans are currently on at least one prescription drug, according to researchers from Mayo Clinic. And out of those that are on at least one — more than half take two, and 1 out of every 5 takes five or more. Something worth noting — the drugs most-commonly prescribed are antidepressants, painkilling opioids, and antibiotics, according to the new research.
The research was done to give insight into prescribing practices. “Often when people talk about health conditions they’re talking about chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes,” says study author Jennifer St. Sauver, Ph.D., a member of the Mayo Clinic Population Health Program in the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery. “However, the second most common prescription was for antidepressants — that suggests mental health is a huge issue and is something we should focus on. And the third most common drugs were opioids, which is a bit concerning considering their addicting nature.”
“17% percent of those studied were prescribed antibiotics, 13% were taking antidepressants and 13% were on opioids. Drugs to control high blood pressure came in fourth (11%) and vaccines were fifth (11%). Drugs were prescribed to both men and women across all age groups, except high blood pressure drugs, which were seldom used before age 30.”
“Overall, women and older adults receive more prescriptions. Vaccines, antibiotics and anti-asthma drugs are most commonly prescribed in people younger than 19. Antidepressants and opioids are most common among young and middle-aged adults. Cardiovascular drugs are most commonly prescribed in older adults. Women receive more prescriptions than men across several drug groups, especially antidepressants: Nearly 1 in 4 women ages 50-64 are on an antidepressant.”
“Prescription drug use has increased steadily in the U.S. for the past decade. The percentage of people who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44% in 1999-2000 to 48% in 2007-08. Spending on prescription drugs reached $250 billion in 2009 the year studied, and accounted for 12% of total personal health care expenditures. Drug-related spending is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, the researchers say.”
“For several drug groups, use increases with advancing age.”
The numbers involved certainly make you question how necessary many of these prescriptions are… While you could perhaps argue that painkillers and antidepressants only affect the individual involved (and perhaps their family/friends) and are therefore not harming anyone else — you certainly can’t make that argument with antibiotics.
The overprescribing of antibiotics is largely responsible for the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant microbes. Several types of which are now very-nearly resistant to every antibiotic that we have, and many of these are quite dangerous — MRSA, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, syphilis, streptococcus, etc.
The new research was just published online in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.