Extremely high new study shows Americans will spend half their lives taking prescription drugs

Americans born in 2019 are likely to spend nearly half of their time (48% for men, 60% for women) on prescription drugs, a new study shows, highlighting gender disparities and raising questions about polypharmacy, health care costs and overall Population with health concerns.

According to recent analysis, American boys and girls born in 2019 are expected to spend 48% and 60% of their lives taking prescription drugs, respectively.

New research from Jessica Ho, an associate professor of sociology and demography at Penn State, shows that Americans born in 2019 are expected to spend more of their lives taking prescription drugs than they do to get married or enter education. . Her findings indicate that American men are likely to spend approximately 48% of their lives on prescription drugs, while for women this number rises to 60%.

Ho recently reported her findings in the journal Demographics.

“As an American, I want to know what medications I’m taking in my body and how long I can expect to take them,” said Ho, a researcher at Penn State’s Institute for Social Sciences. “People are expected to spend longer taking prescription drugs than they did in their first marriage, entering education or joining the workforce. It is important to recognize the central role that prescription drug use plays in our lives. “

Research methods and main findings

Ho used nationally representative surveys conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 1996 to 2019 to study prescription drug use across the United States. The surveys include information on about 15,000 households selected each year and are collected every five months, providing better recall than surveys conducted annually.Additionally, nearly 70% of survey respondents allowed AHRQ and CDC to verify their prescriptions with their pharmacy, providing a higher level of information to the survey accuracy.

The researchers then used mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Human Mortality Database to estimate life expectancy for Americans born in 2019. She then combined this information with survey data to estimate the percentage of their lives they could expect to take prescription drugs.

She found that most American men start taking prescription drugs by age 40, while most American women start taking prescription drugs by age 15. On average, a newborn in 2019 can expect to take prescription drugs for about 37 years, or 48% of his life. A baby girl born in 2019 is expected to be on medication for about 47.5 years, or 60% of her life.

Gender differences in prescription drug use

“We found that women started taking prescription drugs earlier than men, some of which were related to birth control and hormonal contraceptives,” He said. “But it’s also linked to women’s greater use of psychotherapeutic drugs and painkillers. If we consider the differences between men and women, excluding contraceptives only accounts for about a third of the difference. The remaining two-thirds It is mainly caused by the use of other hormone-related drugs, painkillers, and psychotherapeutic drugs used to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, and depression. ADHD”.

Men, on the other hand, tend to take more statins and other drugs to treat Cardiovascular diseases”How to explain. But statin use varies by race and ethnicity, she said.

“Non-Hispanic black men have lower rates of statin use than non-Hispanic white men or Hispanics,” Ho said. “This is concerning because we know that black men have really high rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other metabolic diseases. There is no reason to think that they should take these medications any less often than men of other racial and ethnic groups. Healthcare Access, differential treatment by medical providers, and available socioeconomic resources vary across populations and may help explain these disparities.”

She also found that rates of polypharmacy, in which a person takes five or more drugs at the same time, had risen to alarming levels. In the mid-1990s, most people who took prescription drugs took only one drug. Today, people who take prescription drugs are just as likely to take five or more medications, Ho said.

Polypharmacy and rising healthcare costs

The findings have implications for Americans’ health and health care spending. Many drugs that individuals have been taking for 40 or 50 years have only become available in the past 50 years, so their long-term effects on the body are still unknown, Ho said. Additionally, polypharmacy puts individuals at greater risk for drug interactions and adverse health outcomes, she said.

In terms of health care costs, prescription drug spending reached $335 billion in 2018. Out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs account for 14% of drug spending, and prescription drug spending is expected to reach $875 billion, accounting for 15.4% of national health spending. By 2026.

“This paper is not trying to say whether prescription drug use is good or bad,” He said. “Clearly, they play a role in treating many diseases, but there is growing concern that how much is too much. Numerous studies show that Americans have poorer health and live longer than their counterparts in other high-income countries. Short. Prescription drugs are a big part of this reality. We found that prescription drug use in the United States was even higher than we expected.”

Reference: “Life Cycle Patterns of Prescription Drug Use in the United States”, author: Jessica Y. Ho, October 1, 2023, Demographics.
DOI: 10.1215/00703370-10965990

this National Institutes of Healthsupported this work through the National Institute on Aging.


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