Bottles of prescription pills go through an automated packaging machine in the Medco pharmacy plant in Willingboro, New Jersey.
Photo by Stan Honda/Getty

Study: About half of Americans take prescription drugs

Updated

A new report provides a snapshot of America’s relationship with prescription drugs.

Between 2007 and 2010, about half of Americans reported taking at least one prescription drug in the last month, according to a Center for Disease Control Prevention report released Wednesday. During those three years, 47.5% reported using prescription drugs, up from 39.1% between 1988 and 1994.

About 10% of Americans took five or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days, according to the report. And the older Americans got, the more likely they were to take more meds. While one in four children took at least one prescription drug in the past month, nine in 10 adults over the age of 65 did the same.

“Between 2007 and 2010, more than 10% of adults aged 18 and over reported using antidepressants.”
CDC report
Heart medications topped the list of most common prescription drugs. Cardiovascular medication – used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney disease – along with drugs to target cholesterol saw the highest usage reported in the three-year span. Nearly 18% of adults reporting using either type of drug in the past month.

Researchers said America’s prescription drug habit has increased over the past half-century due to a variety of factors: New drug therapies to treat chronic conditions, the expansion of prescription drug coverage and a burgeoning market for pharmaceutical companies.

Meanwhile, young adults are relying on anti-depressants at four times the rate they used to.

Between 2007 and 2010, more than 10% of adults aged 18 and over reported using antidepressants, a four-fold increase in reported use from 1988-1994. The increase over that time period was more dramatic for women – their antidepressant use skyrocketed from 3.2% to 14.8%.

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Study: About half of Americans take prescription drugs

Updated