Almost half of Americans took at least one prescription drug per month in 2008, an increase of 10 percent over the past decade, a U.S. study found.
One of every five children ages 11 or younger took at least one medication each month in 2008, led by asthma and allergy treatments, according to the survey released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among those ages 60 or older, 37 percent used five or more prescriptions per month.
U.S. spending for prescription drugs more than doubled to $234.1 billion over the 10 years covered by the report, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The two biggest-sellers last year were Pfizer Inc.'s Lipitor for high cholesterol and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s clot-buster, Plavix. The rise of such medicines may continue as insurers add as many as 32 million customers through the U.S. health-care overhaul, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
"Current prescription drug use patterns need to be better understood," the study's authors from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics said in their report. "The use of multiple medications by older Americans "is a continuing challenge that may contribute to adverse drug events, medication-compliance issues and increased health-care costs," they wrote.
Overall, the percentage of Americans of all ages who took at least one prescription drug in the previous month increased during the decade from 44 percent to 48 percent.