In 2015 to 2016, 45.8 Percent of U.S. Population Used Rx Drugs

Prescription drug use increased with age, reaching 85.0 percent for those aged 60 years and older

prescription bottle

THURSDAY, May 9, 2019 (Pharmacist's Briefing) -- In 2015 to 2016, 45.8 percent of the U.S. population used prescription drugs within the past 30 days, according to a May data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Crescent B. Martin, M.P.H., from the NCHS in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to describe prescription drug use by age, sex, and race/ethnicity in 2015 to 2016.

The researchers found that 45.8 percent of the U.S. population used prescription drugs in the past 30 days in 2015 to 2016. There was an increase in prescription drug use with age, from 18.0 percent for children aged younger than 12 years to 85.0 percent among adults aged 60 years and older. Non-Hispanic whites had the highest prescription drug use, followed by blacks, with the lowest use among non-Hispanic Asians and Hispanics. The most commonly used types of drugs included bronchodilators, central nervous system stimulants, antidepressants, and lipid-lowering drugs for ages 0 to 11, 12 to 19, 20 to 59, and 60 years and older, respectively. Compared with the preceding decade, there was a decrease in the percentage of the U.S. population that used drugs.

"Changing trends in prescription drug use over time may be influenced by changing disease prevalence and diagnosis, expanded treatment recommendations, and decline in the use of inappropriate or ineffective therapies," the authors write.

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