Prescription Use Continues To Grow Over Time (and Age)

As I like to refer to us, we’re the “most medicated generation”, and that’s not likely to change. Our children are more obese. They have less economic options. They will live longer. All of these things will contribute to their use of medications.

Additionally, personalized medicine will take hold, and if reform creates a shakeout in the managed care industry, there will be less companies which means their likelihood of retaining a member longer is higher. With longer retention, they will be more interested in investing in adherence programs that drive lower long-term healthcare costs. Use of prescriptions as a predominant approach for initial therapy (versus diet and exercise for example) is likely to continue.

Let’s look at some charts from a recent NY Times article:

The increasing complexity of therapy when patients have numerous drugs is a serious consideration in managing their care.

Some of the other data points from the study by the National Center for Health Statistics were:

  • If you’re older than 60, you’re likely taking a cholesterol lowering drug.
  • If you’re between 20 and 59 and have a prescription, it’s likely to be an antidepressant.
  • 22% of kids under 12 have a prescription…most commonly for asthma.
  • Almost 30% of teenagers take a prescription…most commonly for ADHD or related conditions (6%).
  • 88% of people 60+ were using at least one medication and more than 2/3rds were taking 5 or more.
  • Women use more medications than men.
  • White people used more prescriptions than non-Hispanic blacks of Mexican-Americans.
  • Those with health insurance were twice as likely to use prescription drugs.
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