Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Wisdom Wednesday: Prescription Drug Use

During 2015-2016, about 46% of the US population used one or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days, down slightly from 48% a decade ago, according to new data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the 2015-2016 period, prescription drug use increased with age, from 18% among children younger than 12 years to 85% among adults 60 and older, Cynthia L. Ogden, PhD, and colleagues report in a data brief published online May 8.

Prescription drug use was lower among males (42%) than females (50%), although the pattern differed by age. Among children up to age 11, prescription drug use was higher among boys (22%) than girls (14%), while among adults aged 20 to 59, prescription drug use was lower among men (38%) than women (56%). There were no significant differences by gender among adolescents aged 12 to 19 or adults aged 60 or over.

Prescription drug use was highest among non-Hispanic whites (50%), followed by non-Hispanic blacks (45%), and lowest among non-Hispanic Asian (33%) and Hispanic individuals (37%).

The most commonly used prescription drugs were bronchodilators for children aged 0 to 11 years (4%), central nervous system stimulants for adolescents aged 12 to 19 (6%), antidepressants for adults aged 20 to 59 (11%), and lipid-lowering drugs for adults aged 60 or over (46%).
Looking at prescription drug use trends over the past decade, the researchers observed an overall decreasing linear trend from 2007-2008 through 2015-2016, from 48% to 46% of the US population, with the most statistically significant trend down among children aged 0 to 11, from 22% to 18%. The authors note, though, that the observed declines in drug use among other age groups were not statistically significant.

My Take:
This mild decrease in prescription drug use is encouraging but must continue and accelerate to effect real change. I am pleased that the decrease is the most significant in children. However, the most commonly used drugs are of great concern – central nervous system stimulates for adolescents, antidepressants for young adults and statins for adults over 60.

Bottom Line:
This country must change its’ perception of prescription drug use as the norm rather than the exception.

Source: May 8, 2019 NIH

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