NPR logo
Prescription Drug Use Increased Over The Last Decade, Study Says
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/455286418/455286419" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Prescription Drug Use Increased Over The Last Decade, Study Says

Health

Prescription Drug Use Increased Over The Last Decade, Study Says

Prescription Drug Use Increased Over The Last Decade, Study Says
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/455286418/455286419" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Americans are taking more prescription drugs than ever before. And many are taking five drugs or more a day. We examine a new report that has some surprising information about prescription drugs.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Today in Your Health, just how safe is hormone replacement therapy? But first, Alison Kodjak on a new study showing prescription drug use is on the rise.

ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: Sixty percent of adults take prescription medications. In a study from Harvard's public health school shows that number has been increasing steadily for more than a decade. Lead author Elizabeth Kantor says there are lots of reasons why medication use is growing.

ELIZABETH KANTOR: There's the whole obesity epidemic. There's policy changes and new recommendations coming out and drugs entering the market and exiting the market. And there's so many things happening at once that I think it's really hard to pinpoint exactly what's driving each trend.

KODJAK: The study shows the most widely used drugs treat diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. But an intriguing finding is the spike in the use of antidepressants. The number of people over 40 being treated for depression has doubled in the last decade.

WALID GELLAD: I would say that's concerning.

KODJAK: Walid Gellad is a professor of medicine and health policy at the University of Pittsburg.

GELLAD: Some may need to be on the medication, but why are rates so high?

KODJAK: One clue - a separate study last week showed suicides and drug overdoses among middle-aged white people are soaring. Overall, Gellad says, the growing use of medications in general may be good news or not.

GELLAD: If you're on five pills and you need to be and it's improving your life, making you feel better and reducing your risk of heart attacks, you know, that's good. But if everyone is on five medicines because doctors aren't taking the time to talk to them or we're not exercising enough or eating too much salt or whatever it might be, that's a problem.

KODJAK: He says the study is a good base to begin to figure that out. Alison Kodjak, NPR News.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.